Facing difficult challenges and overcoming them builds self-confidence, teaches self-control and tends to foster an attitude of conscientiousness towards others, who may also face difficulties.
Adversity, painful and something we all hope to avoid, can have a positive impact on our character. We acquire qualities such as persistence, self-control, conscientiousness, self-confidence and curiosity from experiences with adversity.
Are you stuck in negative thinking patterns? Or perhaps you’re not paying attention to you’re thoughts, and are unaware of how your thoughts impact your emotions.
Often times, we approach our thoughts as though we are actors. Our thoughts, those little things that occur inside our heads that we don’t give voice to, often occur automatically and unconsciously. When this happens, we respond to them as if they are our lines to be read, given to us by our mind.
What would happen if, instead of thinking like an actor, you tried thinking like a director or a writer? Before responding to your thoughts, ask yourself “is this thought helpful?” or “Do I really want to be thinking in this way?”
Our mind is constantly comparing our experiences with those of others, or holding others to expectations we’ve created. These judgments happen in our minds, can trigger intense emotions and distract us from the moment.
Mindfulness is spilling into areas beyond medicine, healthcare, psychology and neuroscience. It’s moving into programs in education with children and college students, parenting, athletics, the legal profession and business.
Studies of Mindfulness in a business context have shown that increases in mindfulness are associated with increased creativity and decreased burnout and executive and corporate mindfulness leadership programs are emerging to meet the need. A 2001 FAA study found that multitasking reduces productivity by as much as 20%-40%, while a study with business men in Korea found practicing mindfulness increased productivity. Pacific Investment Management Co and technology leaders, Apple Computer, Yahoo!, Texas Instruments, Nortel Networks and Google have all already instituted mindfulness training and wellness opportunities on-site.
When we talk about mental health, we often talk about problems. We focus on how to reduce anxiety and depression, lessen conflict in relationships or ease uncomfortable symptoms for good reason. But we often overlook the importance of creating happiness. We might even assume that happiness just comes if we decrease our problems.
We forget that happiness is something that we have control over. It’s something we can make a conscious effort to increase.
Happiness, of course, is great. And it goes hand in hand with decreasing problematic stress and other mental health problems. If we’re happy, then we’re not stressed, anxious or depressed. If we’re happy we’re better able to cope with mental health problems.
Each person has a particular set of beliefs about the world. Our beliefs come from our past experiences and natural tendencies of our character. Believing that you and the world around you must be perfect in order for you to be happy is a common character trait.
Doing your best can make you feel competent, proud and in control of your life. But when you believe that perfect is the only road to a happy life, you will find yourself dissatisfied.
The pursuit of perfection doesn’t make us happier or ease stress. In fact, seeking perfection does the opposite. It is linked to increased stress and a number of other emotional, physical, and relationship problems, such as anxiety depression or eating disorders.
Really. It’s as simple as that. And as complex. Mindfulness is not necessarily setting aside time in your busy day to meditate. It is about being present and aware during the moments in which you are living your life.
The challenge is to bring a sense of calm, centered awareness to everyday life. This includes times when you are angry, in an argument, feeling pressure, stuck in traffic, mowing the lawn, watching TV, working, talking on the phone, emptying the dishwasher, thinking about times you’ve been hurt, avoiding problems or eating.
Some activities don’t require a lot of extra effort to bring a sense of calm and awareness. But others, such as difficult interactions and painful thoughts are hard to be mindful of. These are the times when mindfulness in daily life can feel complex.
In the first half of this year, readers really connected with a few posts filled with practical strategies to reduce problematic stress. These posts are aimed at improving your ability to cope with life’s uncertainties and reducing the pressure that can leave you fatigued, spinning your wheels or unable to enjoy your life.
Check out common stress-inducing thoughts in this post and a few tips to respond differently to them.
Whether it’s college life, a new retirement, changes at work, a new baby, health crisis or conflict with the in-laws, life can be full of uncertainty and pressure. This post has two very practical strategies to decrease the anxiety and depression that can accompany difficult times.
With each breath we nourish our bodies, bring necessary oxygen to our organs and muscles and make life itself possible. Generally, we are unconscious of the ongoing rhythm of our breathing and often it is only when we have difficulty breathing that we pay it any attention.
But this fundamental act of breathing is not only necessary to life, it is also a powerful tool in connecting to our sense of calm and centeredness. Through breathing we can connect to our bodies, our own internal rhythms and the experience of being alive.
When left unattended, strong emotions can lead to destructive behaviors. Attending to times that you feel hurt, belittled, let down, disrespected, insulted or threatened is key to dealing with the anger that often comes from those experiences.
You can find more strategies to improve how you feel in my new book, The Stress Response and by clicking here to sign up for more of my tips and and here for podcasts using DBT strategies to improve how you feel.
Angry man photo available from Shutterstock.
But, if you pay attention, you will likely find that there are certain emotionally or mentally painful circumstances that you get caught in. Maybe it’s the angry thoughts about someone who has hurt you or pessimistic thinking about troubles you have faced.
Each of us has a tendency to get caught in certain types of thinking that prolongs painful emotions. Instead of enjoying a relaxing evening, we might find ourselves ruminating on something hurtful someone said, or rather than solving a difficult problem and moving on, you may find you are again and again drawn to thoughts about how unfair your circumstances are.
Sometimes it seems as if the mind just wants to hold on to these painful thoughts and circumstances. Even as we try to get rid of unpleasant thoughts, we may find ourselves rethinking and reliving painful situations.