Tag: grateful

Sitting on the mat

Sitting on the mat

I was sitting on the yoga mat today meditating as is my custom in the morning after my yoga practice, and I had a couple of thoughts. Like so many of you I find myself thinking about my next conquest, role, position, material thing, or maybe just what lies ahead that day. I always try to turn off the noise when I meditate, either by forcing a thought pattern that will override all these future oriented thoughts, or sometimes I just try to sit and listen. I’m getting to be about 75% sucessful at this most days, but it’s not yet perfect. If you cannot just sit and listen to the sounds around you and drown out the chatter in your mind then you might try focusing your mind on the following themes:

  • Now – Think about now just sitting on your mat, tell yourself there is only this moment. You might repeat the phrase “live in the moment, now is all we have” or something like that.
  • Compassion – You may also consider just thinking about compassion. You might say to yourself “I will be compassionate with everyone I encounter today”.  In addition to this you might say to yourself “I will seek to understand and not judge”. Again use your own words, just focus on the theme of compassion and the words will come.
  • Grateful – A third method I use is to just spend some time reciting a running list of what you are grateful for.  This might include your family, spouse or significant other, children, friends, pets, dwelling, your work, your health, or anything else that you are grateful for.

Often I use all three themes during meditation. When it is all working you feel in the moment and you are enjoying just sitting there. You may find that this is one of the most wonderful moments in your day, when you are really present and not working towards something or for someone else. You will also find that sitting on the mat as I call it prepares you for the challenges of the modern world, making it all a bit more easy to be mindful during whatever chaos comes your way.

Namaste

 

Embracing the Monday Goals

Embracing the Monday Goals

If you have read some of my prior posts you know that I was advocating that you set a goal each Monday that will lead to making positive changes in you life. These might be losing weight, exercising more, eating better, overcoming some unhealthy addiction, starting a business, getting a new job, repairing a relationship, and the list goes on and on. I’ve been taking my own advice and am now on my fourth goal or fourth Monday. What I have begun to realize is that most of the goals I set are ongoing and require a frequent investment in time to achieve, so they tend to pile up and require a lot of dedication to achieve them. This is a good thing, but sometimes it might be wise to throw in some easier to achieve goals in the mix. Here is an example of how you might intersperse some goals that can be more easily achieved or at least require less ongoing time to support:

Week 1: Do something everyday towards a business you have started. Clearly this will be one of those ongoing goals that requires effort overtime, categorize this as a big goal.

Week 2: Make changes to your diet to include more fruits and vegetables. This is one of those easier to achieve goals and doesn’t have a lot of overhead associated with it.

Week 3: Practice yoga six days a week. Again this is a pretty big goal and has no end date, you achieve this goal 6 days a week so we might categorize this as a big goal.

Week 4: Make a commitment to donate $500 a year to the United Way. Here is a pretty easy to achieve goal that only requires minimal effort. For those of you who work for a corporation this is simply filling out the pledge card once a year.

Week 5: Commit to calling your parents or siblings once a week. This is somewhat of an in between goal, not a huge time commitment but it does require some discipline.

These are just a few examples of goals that have an ongoing cost, and those that are a bit easier to achieve. Does the fact that a goal requires a big commitment make it more important? Maybe but take the goal for Week 2 of adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet, and Week 4 of donating $500 per year to the United Way; one might suggest these are both pretty important things to do. We all have limited time, so those goals with a high ongoing costs must be things you are extremely committed too. It is always a good idea to have some goals that you can achieve more quickly but that still have a positive impact on your life or the life of others.

Monday Motivation

Goals this week

Last week I wrote about how exercise and meditation that is focused on gratefulness sets you up for a great Monday morning instead of a difficult transition from weekend to work week. Today I would like to ask a little more, so instead of just starting out with a great attitude we need to view this day as a chance to start anew.  Pick something you want to change about your life, which shouldn’t be too difficult for most of us.  Here is a list of a few goals that apply to many people:

  • This week I am going to stick with my exercise program.  No excuses, no more days missed because someone else set your priorities.
  • This week I’m going to kick a bad habit I have.  This habit might be over eating, smoking, drinking too much, loving your cell phone more than your friends or family, too much time with video games, gossiping about family/friends/co-workers, and the list goes on and on. You know what is holding you back, so pick one.
  • This week I’m going to think about what I eat and make some good choices. You know what I mean; you don’t need to be a nutritionist to know when you are eating garbage.
  • This week I’m going to focus on positive interactions with everyone I encounter. What will it cost you, but practicing a little self-control, maybe a bit of empathy, or being less judgmental.

goals

So we are starting out a new week and we will make one change, from my list above or something else that has been weighing heavily on your mind. I’m not advocating you give it all up and join the monastery, we don’t have to make a radical change, but make a change and do it now. The result is these changes will accumulate, they will make you stronger, and they will build on each other.  Let’s take a look what 4 short weeks could do:

  1. Week 1 – I started running/walking 3 days a week
  2. Week 2 – I stopped drinking anything with sugar in it
  3. Week 3 – I volunteered at the local food pantry
  4. Week 4 – I stopped gossiping about people I work with

These aren’t huge things that take tons of planning, but you are now creating good things in your life.  After a month of just changing 4 things I now have a good exercise habit, rehydrating without the worthless calories, giving back to your community, and taking the high road with your co-workers.  Now that was just the first month.

Your homework should you choose to accept this challenge is to write down 4 goals, one for each week in the month and start working on one every Monday. When you reach the fourth week, write down 4 more. I just started a Google doc I called “Weekly Goals” so I can see how this flows over time. Sometimes we get hung up on making elaborate plans with no due dates or simply unreasonable ones; this method keeps you focused on one goal for the week not some daunting list. The approach is one step at a time and it is based on achievement, and it takes minimal planning. I also would start with those goals you can achieve, don’t set yourself up for failure, as you begin achieving some of your initial goals, you can make them more challenging, but you must first embrace the mindset that you can change and this takes time.

It is important that you choose 1 or 2 goals for the week and they should be those of the highest priority. This means choose a goal or two for the week that will have an impact on your personal development, family,  or career. Here is an example of goals I set for a 4 week period:

  • Week of 4/9
    • Study for the AWS Developer Associate certification
    • Meditate for 15 minutes each day
  • Week of 4/16
    • Study for the AWS Developer Associate certification
    • Create YouTube Channel
  • Week of 4/23
    • Review and take the AWS Developer Associate certification exam
    • Schedule a meeting with an attorney to setup a will and trust
  • Week of 4/30
    • Install new hinges and pulls on kitchen cabinets
    • Start writing a gratitude journal every night

Note that some of these goals you have committed to each week may be an ongoing activity that improves your life over time. For instance in the goals I mention above meditating for 15 minutes and writing in your gratitude journal are an ongoing process.

This methodology asks you to prioritize what is most important to you and requires a commitment on your part. On the flip side failure to follow your plan leaves you no where, and you continue to just exist, living the same life you have now.

Start slow and choose one small but significant goal for each week and over time you begin to feel a sense of achievement that comes with taking care of those important things that will enrich your life.

Namaste

 

 

Grateful on a Monday

grateful for this day

There probably is no more important time to count your blessings if you will than on Monday morning. Many of us struggle with the thought of going back to the rigor of a job after a nice weekend, others have no issue with it. I’m the former most of the time, so I have taken it upon myself to not suffer the transition from weekend to work week as some type of burden or weekly negative event.  Instead of starting the week out with some whiny negative attitude, the whole paradigm needs to shift. Here is my recommendation, start your Monday morning with a bit of exercise, which might be running, yoga, Pilates, walking, or chasing your significant other around the house, whatever gets you heart beating and breathing hard.  The intent here is to burn off some energy and get into a state of relaxation.  The next thing to do is sit down on the floor, close your eyes and meditate on the following:

  • Give thanks to (God, Mohamed, Buddha, or Yourself) for being alive and healthy
  • Think about the positive ways you will interact with everyone today
  • Be thankful for what you have (look around it is all relative)

As you are focusing on these few thoughts take deep breaths inhaling and exhaling through your nose and try to drown out the noise in your head that is wanting you to think about To Do’s.  See what happens when you get off the floor, get ready and drive into work.

Are you calmer?

Do you have a more positive outlook on the day?

Can you smile without faking it?

If you can say Yes to these three questions you have found a way to start out your Monday, and any other day of the week in the best possible state of mind.

What are you grateful for today

Namaste

 

 

5 Keys to Happiness

happiness sign

This comes from an article I just read on LinkedIn by their CEO Jeff Wiener.  He talks about what his mentor Ray Chamber taught him were the 5 keys to happiness.  I thought these 5 keys to happiness would be something we could all embrace.  I’ve added a bit of my own qualifications if you will to each of these keys to happiness.

  1. Live in the moment – No not tomorrow, not yesterday, not next week, but NOW!  Face it there is no point living in the past, and little benefit to always thinking about the future. Living in the moment allows us to do our best right now and makes us the most available to those other humans that we live on this earth with.
  2. It’s better to be loving than to be right – Thinking you are smarter than everyone else makes you a real pain in the ass, and when you do it to people you love or like it makes you even a bigger pain in the ass.  This key to happiness is not so easy to pull off, especially for those of us who want to tell everyone the right way to do something; not teach them but tell them.
  3. Be a spectator to your own thoughts, especially when you become emotional – Have you ever got all worked up and written one of those long winded emails only to hit the Cancel button as it begins to occur to you that your emotions have got the best of you? Do you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts about someone or some organization, that are probably more than a bit ill founded? Having some ability to analyze your thoughts when they become less than calm and tranquil can help you get back some sense of happiness, or you can continue to fall into the pain in the ass category as in #2.
  4. Be grateful for at least one thing every day – So even on those days where you think the wheels are coming off, think of one thing you are grateful for.  I used to write once a week all the things I was grateful for, but found that is not a frequent enough of a reminder to make a difference on a daily basis.  So if you journal or blog or just meditate each day, think of that one thing you are grateful for. For example traffic was pretty good today, lunch was very good, I felt great after or during my workout, I had a great meeting at work today, I helped someone with their work, I showed someone appreciation for what they do, and the list goes on and on; pick one.
  5. Help others every chance you get – In this self serving, me oriented planet we spend our time focused on our own goals often at the exclusion of everything and everyone around us. I am as guilty of this as the next person, but fortunately I know other people that have taken this to heart and helping others seems very effortless to them.  In fact they seem quite happy about it, so I am trying to emulate them and see if it makes me happier too. When you do allow your mind to wander back to the past you find those times you spend mentoring, teaching, and doing something nice for others is what you remember fondly.

What are your keys to happiness?

The complete article is at: http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140210025756-22330283-five-keys-to-happiness?trk=tod-home-art-list-small_2