We may all procrastinate or fear change, but we all have the capacity to change. And no matter how uncomfortable change can be, most of us all want to change in one-way or another.
Maybe you have been thinking about quitting your job everyday for the past two years. Or maybe you have been thinking about changing your eating and fitness routines so getting dressed every morning isn’t an emotional ordeal. Or maybe you really want to write a book and it has been brewing in you now for so long that you MUST write.
So you quit your job. You start going to the gym. You eat vegetables. You even get up at 5:00 a.m. every morning to write the novel of your dreams. You do this for several days straight.
Then, one day you wake up at 5:00 a.m. and press snooze. One more hour won’t kill me, you think. You get dressed in the morning and you feel frustrated. You have not lost as much weight as you thought you would. The next day you eat pizza. Then the next day you eat a burger and fries instead of salad. In the morning when you should be working on a project for your client, you find yourself second guessing self-employment. You let fear set in and you start looking for jobs on LinkedIn.
For many of us motivation isn’t our problem. Instant gratification is. Change doesn’t happen in a few days or a week. It isn’t as easy as changing the channel. We are so conditioned to have everything we want at the moment we want it. But as the old saying goes: Everything worthwhile takes time.
Today for Mindful Monday, I want you to consider another way to approach change. Those quick diets and those quick fixes is not what you need to make a real change. Here are a few tips to help you find the patience you need to change.
Forget about being perfect:
Chances are the first book you write will be horrible. You will have to edit it many times. And after all that, you may still feel like your book doesn’t embody your voice or message. But the second book you write won’t have the same issue. It will be clearer, on point and it will represent you. So forget about being perfect. Just get started. And when you aren’t perfect let it go.
Be patient and start again:
Be aware when you feel yourself straying from your path. Ask yourself: What am I afraid of? Are you afraid of failing? Are you afraid of success? Are you afraid of how your family will react to you being self-employed? If you have already gotten off track, you should still ask yourself these questions. But, also ask yourself, what about this process didn’t work? Did you work out in the evening when it would have been better for you to work out in the morning? Finally, forgive yourself quickly and start again with your new and improved plan.
Create a community:
Change can be lonely. Following your dreams can be lonely. So find a community of people that can help you through the ups and downs of change. Are you an aspiring author that needs help staying motivated? Then start a writing group. You all can get together, network and talk about the habits that will improve your productivity. Can’t stick to your fitness routine? Get a walking buddy. Community is a powerful support system that can get your through your toughest challenges. Don’t go it alone.
I love change for the same reason I love traveling. It is uncomfortable, but I feel alive, aware, present and purposeful. Yes sometimes it is scary and sometimes inconvenient. But the journey is also invigorating and full of unlikely friends and characters that help you along your path. Uncertainty will take you places beyond your wildest dreams. All you have to do is embrace it.
Believe in change:
You may be trying change. But you may also live with a partner that is trying to change. Maybe he or she has been trying to lose weight for years. This person has tried every diet under the sun and always ends up quitting and going back to old comfortable habits. We can’t control people or their habits. And obviously we should never try to. But sometimes when we have known people for a long time, we doubt their ability to change.
I think this doubt can be toxic to you and your loved ones. I will always believe in the power of people and in their capacity to grow. But we all grow at different rates and in different ways. Be patient and kind to yourself. And be patient and kind to the others who are also trying to change.
Dr. Chris Michaels
Mindful Monday is a weekly practice provided by Dr. Chris Michaels. The intention of #MindfulMonday is to provide the world with a moment of pause and reflection. This moment connects us to what really matters. Stay tuned each week on our site, Facebook and Twitter for Mindful Monday tips!
The holidays are almost like time travel. I can be sitting at my home with Jack, my dog, and look at one childhood photo and feel ten-years-old all over again.
Goal setting during the New Year makes me feel the same way. I feel like the Roman god Janus with two heads. One head looks to the past and the other head looks to the future.
I recently went on a trip to Thailand and Cambodia. When I returned home, I was feeling inspired and decided to sit down, embrace the past and future and write out my 2015 goals. Before I began committing to my goals on paper I pulled out a notebook filled with goals from the last few years. Looking at these past goals was informative, celebratory, frustrating and at times entertaining.
Some goals I have achieved easily. Some goals felt daunting at the time, but now I look back and think, why did I stress out so much about this? Other goals I failed at several times before I succeeded. And then some goals I still “fail” at constantly.
Failure doesn’t feel great.
But failure isn’t the problem. Our perspective is the problem. How we see and interact with failure dictates if and when we will reach our goals.
So what is the solution? Spend less time avoiding failure. We will all fail. There is no way around it. So instead of trying to be perfect we can learn to fail well. For Mindful Monday this week I would like to share a few tips on how to fail well.
1. Ask for help. When I am failing and all I want to do is stick my head in the sand I reach out to loved ones. They remind me to be kind to myself. And they always have a way of showing me what is already right in front of me.
2. Forgive yourself quickly. You decided you were no longer going to drink soda. But you are at the movie theatre. Everyone is getting popcorn and nachos. It has been grey and snowy all week and all you want is a Diet Coke. You get a large soda and guzzle it down in the movie. Later that night you feel horrible. You tell yourself, I will never be able to kick this habit. I don’t have any self-control. Stop right there and forgive yourself. You may have slipped-up today. But that doesn’t mean you will tomorrow. Let it go. And try again.
3. Be flexible. Being rigid isn’t going to help you work out everyday and it certainly won’t help you create a moving novel. During your journey to reach a certain goal you will get off track. Know this and embrace it. Don’t treat it like a disaster. If you don’t write one day, don’t freak out and tell yourself you will never be an author. Just sit down the next day and write. If it helps keep a journal or document on a calendar what days you accomplish your goal. Celebrate the days that you meet your goals.
Before I go, a quick word about New Year’s resolutions and goals. Don’t create a goal because you SHOULD. Slow down and really ask yourself: What do I want my life to be like in 2015? What do I want to offer the world?
Take baby steps. You won’t write a novel in a day. Or even during a weekend. You will write it one paragraph at a time.
A year and a half ago a friend of mine committed suicide. After a fight with her husband at his place of employment she stormed out, walked home, went into the basement and hung herself. This form of suicide is very unusual for a woman. They don’t usually choose such a violent end to life. It was a dramatic statement as to her state of mind at the time. To say that her family and friends were in shock is quite an understatement. We just couldn’t wrap our minds around it. How could this happen, we asked.
For weeks I questioned what role I might have played in this tragic event. I asked myself, was I a good enough friend? Could I have been a better listener? Noticing there was something troubling her weeks before she took her life, I reached out to offer support. But her response was, “No. I’m good. Everything’s going to be fine.”
Before the memorial service I met with her husband who told me that she had left a note. He asked if I wanted to see it. And I said, “Only if you want to share it with me.” He opened his wallet and handed me the scribbled note she wrote minutes before she pushed the chair out from under her body rendering it lifeless. The first sentence of her suicide note said, “I don’t feel loved.”
I vowed in that moment to do all I can so no one has to go through life not feeling loved. As a spiritual teacher and healer I am absolutely committed to teaching the sacredness of all life. Every person has equal value in the eyes of God. And every person has something unique and wonderful to bring to life. Understanding this truth becomes the entryway for self-love. And self-love is a prerequisite for letting love in. Without it, no one will ever be able to love you enough. Loving someone who doesn’t love them self is like pouring water into a bucket with a hole in it. Nothing can ever be retained.
That is why I created this webinar series, Letting Love In. I dedicate it to my lost friend who did not feel loved in this world.
Today is #GivingTuesday. #GivingTuesday is a global day dedicated to giving back. Today, on Tuesday, December 2, 2014, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and people around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.
That is why I am sharing this story with you today. I trust it will lead many to self-love and help others avoid her terrible fate.
In 2007 the Princeton economist Alan Krueger and Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman published a paper called Are We Having More Fun Yet? The paper addressed the question: Has social progress, economic prosperity and technological advancements of the past 50 years changed the quality of our lives?
This is a loaded question. Because on one hand technology has undeniably changed and improved many lives. But on the other hand, when you break down how we spend our time this question becomes more complicated. Many of us spend the majority of our time involved in unsatisfying work or chores. We stay late at work finishing a project when we would rather be at our son’s play. On the weekends we do laundry instead of meeting with a friend for coffee. The thing is, when we aren’t working many of us are numbing by watching TV or snacking. That leaves us little time for meaningful activities or even moments of exploration.
Everyone is still looking for happiness. I believe exploration or curiosity is essential to happiness. But for some reason, we overlook curiosity.
Curiosity has always powered my life. In my curious endeavors I have looked to the curious brains no longer with us. Leonardo da Vinci was no stranger to play. He was an innovative creator and incredibly curious. Over the years his “to-do” lists were translated. The blog photo is a translation of one of his to-do lists. Now I can’t tell you if Leonardo da Vinci was happy. But it is apparent from this list that he was living a life full of exploration and meaning based on his own interests and passions. By following his interests and asking questions he not only lived a meaningful life full of invention, creativity and discovery, but he also contributed to his community and communities for years to come.
For this Mindful Monday, I want you to be your own Leonardo da Vinci and try a little playful experiment.
1. Explore your passions
Do you remember the last time you felt alive? What were you doing? Be curious about what lights you up. Read books about it. Don’t have time to read? Visit www.audible.com. Download and listen to a book on your way to and from work. You can also download podcasts. No dreams or current interests? HowStuffWorks is a great podcast for you. They cover anything and everything. One week they will talk about the Bermuda Triangle and the next they will discuss how quantum computers work.
2. Try something new
Never tasted Korean food? Try it. Be mindful and conscious about the food. What do you like about it? What do you not like about it? Remember you don’t have to go across the world to have a different cultural experience.
3. Get to know old friends
This week, make it a goal to find out something new about the people you know. Ask them questions. The questions don’t have to be complicated. Just make sure you listen. That is the most important part.
The pursuit of happiness is a brave journey. And it is not as simple as having a loving family, a supporting partner, a nice car, a big house or successful career. Don’t be afraid to thrive on uncertainty and rekindle your curiosity. Chances are, that is where you will find your true life purpose.
Dr. Chris Michaels
Mindful Monday is a weekly practice provided by Dr. Chris Michaels. The intention of #MindfulMonday is to provide the world with a moment of pause and reflection. This mindful moment connects us to what really matters. Stay tuned each week on our site, Facebook and Twitter for Mindful Monday tips! Want to read more now? Check out last week’s post!
Last week I talked about how to get through the holidays mindfully. It isn’t always easy. But it can be done.
One tip I gave to help holiday mindfulness was practicing appreciation. Practicing appreciation has always given me perspective. The holiday season isn’t really about gifts or parties. If anything it is about perspective.
So, this week I wanted to share some gratitude practices with you in the spirit of cultivating perspective this holiday season.
You can do this on notecards or in a notebook. My only suggestion is keep them all together. It will be nice to look back at the past and see the inspiring happenings that surrounded you.
Sometimes it is funny to exchange crazy boss stories. Or it is nice to talk to your friend about that horrible date you went on the night before. But remember, we shouldn’t just be bonding over our low moments. We need to also practice just celebrating and enjoying our life together. So instead of complaining with your friends about all the problems talk about what is good in your life. Maybe even dream a little!
We are always in a rush. Most of us are lucky if we eat together without the TV. Before you chow down take two-minutes to discuss one moment that changed your day for the better.
For whatever reason we remember or have a tendency to focus on how we have been “wronged.” This week think about someone that has been inspirational or helpful. This could be a co-worker, friend or mentor. Send or give them a handwritten letter. No emails.
Sometimes we forget the Time Warner representative on the phone is a real person. That barista at Starbucks she has bills to pay too. She has deadlines to meet and she too worries about all the same day-to-day issues you do. Be kind. Be patient. And thank them for helping you.
Go outside. Look at the stars. Those stars used to be the only thing that guided pilots through the sky. Smell the pine needles. Watch the birds and how they move around from tree to tree. Listen to the ocean. Instead of rushing back inside to your TV or cell phone be with nature. Whether we understand all the workings around us or not – their presence is incredible.
*Stay tuned tomorrow, Tuesday November 25, 2014 on Facebook for a special thank you from me to you!
The holiday season is a time when people come together. It can be full of joyous memories, delicious food and loved ones. But for many of us, no matter how balanced or happy our life may be – the holidays are STILL stressful.
The truth is there is so much food to prepare and eat. There are so many parties to attend. And somehow each year, there are more presents to buy and more holiday sales to entertain our consumer desires. All of these plans and expectations spin in our mind as we reflect on what used to be, what could have been and how we will be better next year.
As wonderful as this time of year can be, it can also be very overwhelming.
So how do we get through the season mindfully?
Here are a few ideas.
You can’t tackle these all at once. And some will work better for you than others. So pick one. And during the next holiday gathering make it your mission to fulfill this task.
Stay tuned next week for Gratitude Practices!
Dr. Chris Michaels
Mindful Monday is a weekly practice provided by Dr. Chris Michaels. The intention of #MindfulMonday is to provide the world with a moment of pause and reflection. This mindful moment connects us to what really matters. Stay tuned each week on our site, Facebook and Twitter to find Mindful Monday! Want to read more now? Check out last week’s post!
As I have discussed in my book, The Power of You, the world is changing. One symptom of this change is that many people are experiencing sadness or mild depression.
According to a report out last month — more than 30 million Americans are currently taking anti-depressants.
That’s 10% of our population.
The usage of anti-depressants among middle-aged women is more than twice that. Today 1 out of every 4 women in their 40s and 50s is on some kind of mood altering drug.
To me, these are SHOCKING statistics. It was these statistics that inspired me to write last week’s blog post.
This week I have been asking myself:
What can help this sadness?
Why are we experiencing this sadness?
And how do we dream at 50?
It feels hard to dream after a certain part in our life. We have voices in our head saying: “Well, you know, you’re not as young as you used to be. And there’s going to be fewer opportunities ahead now.”
I feel this way from time to time. I see that clock on the wall spinning faster and faster! And I hear that voice of lowered expectations trying to convince me to accept less or to give up my dreams.
But I will not succumb to fear. And I will not lower my expectations just because I happen to be over 50! And I ask you to consider this too. No matter where you are in life or how old you are – there is always time to dream and act on your dreams.
This past July at the World Domination Summit, I heard a woman tell her story about reaching that middle age. She felt the world was going by without her. She kept thinking – People have just lost their sense of connection. There’s no community anymore.
She was personally overwhelmed by a growing sense of sadness in her own life. She knew she couldn’t change the whole world.
But surely there was something she could do at least in her own neighborhood.
So, she asked her husband, who was a carpenter, to build a 20-foot farmers table out of wood. Once it was complete, she had him set it up in the backyard in a beautifully shaded area near her flowers. She hung a crystal chandelier over the top. And set up chairs.
This woman who was kind of a foodie herself, decided she was going to invite 10 of her neighbors over to dinner each month. She wanted to invite people she didn’t know so everyone could get better acquainted and meet someone new.
At these dinner parties, they all got to know each other and shared stories.
Over time something wonderful happened.
They started caring about each other and checking in on their neighbors. And a whole sense of community was created. So she found her purpose. She stopped complaining about how nobody cares anymore and did something about it.
To date, she has served over 1,000 people.
She’s building community and changing the world from a dinner table in her backyard.
Dreams aren’t just for your 20s and 30s. Dreams don’t have to be quests that take decades to fulfill.
These are both exciting and frustrating days to live in. We’re living in a time of immense social change. This is the only life you’ve got. So be sure you are doing something worthwhile with it.
We aren’t our parent’s generation.
There’s not going to be a time when we will be able to retire to Florida with a pension and a gold watch. We’re too active for that anyway. And our destiny is tied to a different day.
We didn’t come to sit around in a rocking chair waiting to die. We didn’t come just to make ourselves comfortable.
We came to transform the world. And you better believe we’re going to do it.
What is you dream?
Spend a few quiet mindful moments today between grocery shopping and conference calls with your journal. Make a few notes. You don’t have to decide your dream today. But making room for it today will change your tomorrow.
You lay in bed after another sleepless night. You are exhausted and restless. Your mind is racing. Worries pull your heart into your stomach. Yet, you feel an inescapable emptiness. You don’t remember what joy looks like or how laughter feels in your lungs. You don’t want to get out of bed today, tomorrow or ever.
Depression is real. And it is consuming.
At some point in our lives we all experience periods of pain. Some of us experience depression for a few days, while others may work their entire life to overcome it.
Therapy and medication have often been the solution for depression. I am not here to tell you whether you should or should not take medication. Each person’s situation is unique. But I do want you to know you aren’t alone and there are additional treatment options. Scientists and leading researchers are finding that meditation and mindfulness practices could help people battling depression.
According to the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, “Meditation helps chronically depressed patients, reducing their relapse rate by half.”
This does not surprise me.
As we have discussed in previous posts, mindfulness has the power to change our life for the better. It helps with anxiety, focus, self-control and stress. It helps us love better, work more efficiently and listen more carefully. When we are mindful we can observe compassionately. When we are mindful, judgment and criticism may arise, but it doesn’t dominate our personal story.
Whether we are depressed, anxious or unmotivated, mindfulness helps us take control of our life again.
Despite all the benefits, many of us still don’t make the time for ourselves. Instead of spending ten minutes a day pausing or meditating many of us look to other things to take the sadness away. We look to food, work, cars, clothes or relationships. We all try so hard to live a happy life, yet we miss the point. By looking outside of ourselves, we end up destroying the wellbeing and sense of peace we work so hard to find.
I don’t mean to say if you are mindful that your depression will go away. I understand it is not that simple. But I do know meditation and mindfulness practices can be powerful.
If you struggle with depression, anxiety or exhaustion I ask you to take some time for yourself this week. Set up a space in your home where you feel safe. Make it your sanctuary. Put pillows, blankets or candles there. And commit to meditate for 5 minutes everyday for one week. After you meditate feel free to journal if that feels natural to you. Do that everyday for 7 days. By the 7th day look at your journal. Do you see a change?
If you really are busy and don’t have time to set up a space in your home, use the Insight Timer App. There are many 5-minute guided meditations. You can use this app in your car on your lunch break.
Remember, no matter how low you are feeling you are a powerful being. You will make it through this challenging time.
Love yourself daily. And keep meditating. You never know what could happen. That void you have been trying to fill may just fill with peace.
A stress free life doesn’t exist.
But a life where you are awake and aware does exist. Since the beginning of Mindful Monday, I have been recommitting myself to living a mindful life. I am not always good at it. Sometimes I forget. Sometimes I fall back into that dream state where I am worried about my smart phone, what someone said or about what I need to do tomorrow. But then I remember. I suppose that is the beauty of being mindful. It is a process – a process that is worth the effort.
I have learned something else about this process. Mindfulness is not just about meditation. (Although it is an important component.) Mindful living is composed of a series of actions and practices.
Many of my readers have asked about how to be mindful at work amidst deadlines and expectations.
Here are few tools to help you be mindful through your workweek:
Start your day your way:
For me meditation is just as important as breakfast. It is my way to gear up for the day. You can start out with small commitment of 3-minutes if that is all you have. Those 3-minutes of peace and pause can change your entire day. If you have a stressful meeting or busy work-schedule that is more of a reason not to skip these 3-minutes. You need this time more than ever.
Nourishing yourself doesn’t just happen at lunch or dinner. Bring snacks. Bring healthy snacks – almonds, apples or a smoothie. You can’t expect your body to carry you through the trials of a busy workweek if you don’t give it the fuel to go.
If you are walking to another meeting, don’t check your email or send a text message. Be present in that moment. Multi-tasking is a great skill, but using it all the time will tire you out. And in the end it will leave you unfocused and scattered. Be here now. Even in the moments of transition.
Being curious seems to be difficult for many of us, especially when we have been in the same relationship, marriage or career for many years. We think we know it all. At least that is what our daily routine has led us to believe. But the truth is, we don’t know it all. There are new beginnings and unseen mysteries all around us. We just have to be open, aware and awake to see them.
How will you be curious this week?