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How to Train Your Brain Toward a Meaningful Life

mindfulness training“Life, it all goes by so fast.”

This is a phrase that is said ubiquitously by people across race, ethnicity, socio-economic class, gender, you name it. When you hear something this common – something is telling us to listen.

Why do we lose sight that life is so temporary? Some might say that we have a fear of death so we block it out of our minds, and without the awareness of death we lose sight of the preciousness of life. Others might say we just get caught up in our daily routines and stop seeing or pondering this miracle of life.

Whatever the reason, we know it happens and it may take a death or a birth to remind us of the preciousness of life.

Here is a process I created and did a national research study around to help us cultivate more of these meaningful moments.

  1. Object – Find a tangible or intangible object that has deep meaning to you. This could be a family heirloom, a spiritual object, a piece of nature, or even a memory of sometime passed.
  2. Making Meaning – As you choose this object, remind yourself of the meaning it holds for you.
  3. Mindful Check-in – Sit, stand, or lie down and bring your attention to your body and just see if you can be aware of how you’re feeling physically and emotionally in this moment. Then bring your attention to your breath, just noticing how this body breathes itself.
  4. Connecting – Turn your attention to this object and begin to engage your senses with it. Notice how it feels, how it makes you feel, see it with your eyes, hear it if there are sounds. Spending some moments with it.
  5. Thank yourself for taking the time-out of all your daily busy-ness to do this.

Doing a practice like this for five minutes a day may also help you notice moments such as this in your daily life and change your relationship to the moment from a routine moment to a more meaningful moment. Author Stephen Levine said, “If you had a year to live what would you do, who would you call, what would you say and why are you waiting?” You can also change this to an hour.

As always, please don’t take my word for engaging in this practice, try it out for yourself. Notice any pre-judgments such as “this is silly, this can’t work for me.” Try and set them aside and then re-engage with the practice. See what comes up for you. Let your experience guide you, not your snap judgments.

If you’re going to be around this Wednesday, don’t miss the Free Live Webinar 7 Steps to a Stress-Less Brain. 

Share your comments, stories, and questions below. Your interaction here provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Antique cameo photo available from Shutterstock

How to Train Your Brain Toward a Meaningful Life

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is creator of the six month online program A Course in Mindful Living, author of the book Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion, The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler: Quick Exercises to Calm Your Mind, the premier eCourse Basics of Mindfulness Meditation: A 28 Day Program, the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations. Join The Now Effect Community for free Daily Now Moments and a Weekly Newsletter. Dr. Goldstein is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles.

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APA Reference
Goldstein, E. (2012). How to Train Your Brain Toward a Meaningful Life. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 24, 2019, from


Last updated: 16 Jul 2012
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