To deal with PAIN, you have to LAUGH

Pain is an inevitable part of our lives.

Sometimes it is the result of factors outside of control, but often its causes are self-inflicted.

Acknowledging the sources of our pain is the first step we can take to make positive changes in our lives.

This list may not contain all the sources of your PAIN, but it may open your mind to other causes:

Perfectionism – While it is good to set high standards and goals, establishing unrealistic ones that aren’t in line with our values is setting ourselves up for failure.  Two important questions to ask ourselves in a quest for perfection are Whose standard are you trying to live up to, and Why?

Anxiety – When we have regrets about the past, or worry about events in the future that have yet to occur, we let anxiety take over our lives.  As a result, we never live in the present moment.

Insecurity – When we don’t believe in our abilities, we become prisoners of our thinking.  These limited beliefs prevent us from opening our minds and living to our fullest potential.

Narcissism – When we put ourselves first, we let our ego take over.  While we may not think of ourselves as being narcissistic, a chase for happiness without a spiritual foundation is a never ending race.

To help us deal with some of the sources of our PAIN, we can LAUGH:

Let go – Letting go is about us having faith that things will work out, and a belief that we don’t have, and don’t need, all the answers.

Acceptance – Acceptance allows us to embrace our imperfections.  It is about us being honest with ourselves to establish a starting point to make positive changes in our lives.  We should also accept that we have the power to change if we are willing to do so.

Uniqueness – When we accept that we are unique, comparison to others is no longer necessary.  While we can’t be someone else, we can work on being the best version of ourselves.

Gratitude – Tony Robbins says that when we practice and experience gratitude we can’t be worried or angry.  What a perfect antidote to PAIN!

Humility – Being humble allows us to keep our ego in check.  It is a quiet confidence in our abilities, but also an understanding of the importance of service to others.

If we can learn to embrace our ability to LAUGH, we can learn how to handle, and begin to eliminate, the PAIN in our lives.

Mindfulness – the answer to better living?

In this video by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, he discusses the 9 attitudes of Mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the idea of living moment to moment, with non-judgemental awareness.

Dr. Kabat-Zinn says that while this seems like a simple concept, it can be hard to practice as we often get caught up in our states of mind, and our use of personal pronouns such as “I”,  “me”, and “my.”

Mindfulness is about differentiating between who we think we are, and who we actually are, and about cultivating the following attitudes in our everyday life.

  1. Beginners Mind – Orientation to present moment where everything is fresh and new.  We bring ideas and attitudes to every moment based on our previous experiences.  Beginners mind is about being disciplined, and not being stuck in our current ideas or opinions.  It is about challenging ourselves to see things as if we are looking at them for the first time, and not the way they were a half hour ago or two years ago.
  2. Non-judging – Part of working definition of Mindfulness.  We form ideas and opinions on everything, and there is a steady stream of inner dialogue about what is good or bad, or what we want or don’t want.  We should evaluate and be aware of how judgemental we are, and recognize how we can get imprisoned by it.  We should instead cultivate discernment, so we can seek clarity, wisdom, understanding, and interconnection of things, as judging creates a veil or filter over eyes.  Awareness of this judging will allow us to live authentically in present moment and not through unhealthy habits of the mind.
  3. Acceptance – This is an active process.  It is not resignation, but rather recognition that things are the way they are, and not the way we want them to be.  This doesn’t mean we that can’t work on changing the world or our circumstances, but we shouldn’t force things to be a way they are not.  It is understanding where you stand, so you can take the first step forward.
  4. Letting go – This is the opposite of grasping.  It is letting things be as they are, and is the doorway to freedom.  Every time you catch yourself clinging to something, let it be.  Just as we take breath in, we have to let it go.  Letting go is about receiving and releasing and not holding on to things.
  5. Trust – This is an area that we are sometimes strangers to.  We need to trust that everything will take care of itself.  Embracing trust will not only benefit ourselves, but our relationships, dealings with other people, and life’s challenges.  We must reside in our abilities to meet whatever comes towards us.  While we do not want to trust naively, we can trust other wisdom factors to help guide us.
  6. Patience – We are often impatient as to get to the next important thing.  As we rush to get somewhere else, we are never in the present moment.  We need to recognize that some things can’t be hurried, and that they will unfold when they are ready.  Practicing patience involves Acceptance.
  7. Non-Striving – This is an act of non-doing.  It is going along with the unfolding of life without an agenda, or looking for a better moment or escape.  The more items we place on our to do list, the more we should focus on non-striving.  What we will get will come out of being and appropriateness to the situation.
  8. Gratitude – We’re alive!  We often take for this granted.
  9. Generosity – How powerful it is to give yourself over to life?  Not for selfish gain, but to give joy to others.  To devote your time and attention to someone else.

Dr. Kabat-Zinn ends by saying that the mind and heart are the same word in Asian languages.  Therefore, these attitudes are part of heart-fullness.  He says the profound thing is the way these attitudes interconnect, and how they can help us see people as they are and to find common ground.

This video is a great reminder of how our ego can get in the way of us living to our fullest potential, as the ego causes us to see things through the filter of our beliefs and experiences.

Practicing Mindfulness can help us to rid ourselves of preconceived notions or biases, so we can look at everything around us with an open mind.  As a result, we can learn to not make everything about ourselves.  To not take things personally, worry about being right or wrong, and being slighted or insulted.  To not dwell on the past or future, but to be in the present moment with a clear mind.

Mindfulness reminds me of this quote by Dr. Wayne Dyer, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”  Notice he didn’t say the way you “think” about things.  “Looking”, to me, implies the soul, or the mind. “Thinking” brings the ego into play.

If executed properly, Mindfulness is the antithesis of anxiety, fear, or worry – the key to better living.

All we have to do is open our minds.

 

Just Breathe!

There is no denying the role that stress and anxiety play in our daily lives, and how both can affect our state of mind.

Not being in a peak state of mind puts us at major disadvantage.

It can cause us lose control of our emotions and externalize our feelings in a negative way, or we can internalize these emotions and create an environment where they build on each other and manifest into negative self talk.

The external responses to the stress and anxiety we feel may cause us to snap at our spouse, kids, or customers at work, and result in a hurtful remark we wouldn’t say if we were in a peak state of mind and felt in control.

The internal responses can create an ongoing negative inner dialogue, creating a sense of noise or distraction that gets in the way of us being able to process what is actually going on around us.

We can, however, achieve a peak state of mind to help us deal with the daily stress and anxiety that we feel in a simple way.

How?  Just breathe.  Really.  It’s as easy as that.

A technique we can use to help accomplish this is called box breathing.

Box breathing is utilized by the Navy Seals in non-combat situations, and is done by inhaling to a count of 5, holding your breath for 5, exhaling for 5, and holding your breath for 5.  You then repeat this sequence until you feel calm and relaxed.  If you find that a 5 count is too much, you can adjust the count as necessary and work your way up.

According to Sealfit.com, the benefits of box breathing are:

  • Reduction of performance anxiety
  • Control of the arousal response
  • Increasing brain elasticity – flexibility through enhanced blood flow and reduced mental stimulation
  • Enhancing learning and skill development
  • Increasing capacity for focused attention and long term concentration

You can perform this technique in the morning before the kids get up, in your car on the way to work, at work, or walking through the grocery store.

The key is to do it habitually, so you are performing it prior to encountering a stressful or anxiety inducing situation.

Imagine how much better your decision making can be, or how much your communications will be improved when you can quickly put yourself in a peak state of mind.

The best part is that it doesn’t cost any money, or require any special training, but it is something that can help us have a significant impact on the quality of our lives.

All you have to do is breathe