Adulting, Anxiety, Books, Mindfulness, Motivation

Journaling

I recently picked up a self help guide titled: “100 Days of Gratefulness: A Gratitude Journal” by Amy J. Blake. Although I’m not entirely sure if you could call it a guide per se, it’s more like a journal with prompts. Each page is titled with a question, such as “How am I fortunate?” and then it gives you space to provide an answer. Ideally you would tackle one question each day, spending approximately ten minutes on your response. There are one hundred questions in total, all of which ask you in one way or another what you are grateful for.

I’ve read books on the power of gratefulness before, and I am quite aware of the positive effects this practice can have in your life. However it can be difficult to get started. That’s why having a journal with pre-designed prompts can help. It makes the entire process a lot easier by incorporating more structure to the practice and through it’s one question a day set up it can assist in making gratefulness a habit.

You don’t necessarily need to buy a journal like this one either. Any notebook will do, just google gratitude prompts to obtain the questions. Then take some time each day to answer one, I personally like to write a response with my morning cup of coffee. There is just something substantial about writing your responses down, about taking the time to really collect your thoughts, which makes journaling a great medium for practicing gratefulness. In the past I’ve simply spouted lists of things I’m grateful for at random times throughout the day, but the intention behind writing makes it more meaningful.

Brain Hacks, Sleep

Nighty Night

I’ve been having some trouble getting to sleep lately, with much of the problem stemming from a few careless nights of staying up well past my bedtime (I was out with friends… the fictional variety).

In order to get my snooze routine back on track, I’ve been researching healthy natural ways to get better sleep. That is how I came across “Good Night Sleep: 20 Tips for Better Sleep” by Asanga Wijeratne. The book is quite short and some of the advice it provided I was already aware of, such as turning off electronics, avoiding caffeine and eating late, keeping a routine etc. However its segment on napping was definitely a new concept for me.

Apparently human beings are polyphasic sleepers (we like to sleep several times during a 24 hour period), and napping throughout the day can not only help improve our alertness and productivity but it can also assist us in getting better sleep at night. Ideally these naps should be 20 – 30 minutes long, so as not to negatively impact our sleep during the night.

There are three different types of napping:

1. Planned Napping: This type of napping is intentional and pre-emptive. It’s particularly useful for mothers with nursing babies, who know they will have to wake up regularly throughout the night to feed their child.

2. Emergency Napping: It’s the opposite of planned napping, in that it is reactive in nature. A perfect example would be the five minute power nap, which is often suggested to drivers that are finding themselves feeling lethargic or drowsy on the roads, as a way to prevent car accidents occurring.

3. Habitual Napping: This type of napping occurs at the same time and for the same duration every day. It is most commonly utilised by toddlers after their lunch.

I plan on using a emergency/habitual hybrid napping routine for the next week to see if this improves my night time sleep, in addition to following the other instructions provided in the book. I feel confident that this will give me the results I’m after, and in all honesty I’m really looking forward to incorporating a ritual after work nap.

Books, Brain Hacks, Mindfulness

Happy Memories = Smiling Mind

While reading the “Smiling Mind: Mindfulness Made Easy” by Jane Martino and James Tutton, I came across many, and I do mean many, really useful mindfulness exercises. I find it extremely helpful when self help books become instructional, it makes it so much easier to put the theory into practice. It’s also makes it less stressful to glean results. Exercise 9 was one of my favourites, so I thought I’d share it with you. However I would definitely suggest picking up this book for more options. Alternatively there is also an app you can download and a website to visit.

So here we go:

Step 1: Sit or lie down, but try to maintain an aligned posture as you do so. You can use pillows or folded blankets to help ensure support, but be sure you feel comfortable in that position.

Step 2. Take some deep breaths, and observe how it goes in and out of your body. You can even place your hands on your belly and feel it expand and contract.

Step 3. Recall an experience or situation which made you extremely happy. Try to remember it in great detail, consider the sounds, smells and sights. See if you can relive it using all of your senses.

Step 4. Notice the physical sensations this memory elicits. Where and how do you feel happiness? Is it a warmth in your stomach? Do you feel butterflies? Take some deep breaths and explore these sensations, but be sure not to identify with the emotions. The goal is to observe rather than to experience.

Step 5. Take a few deep breaths and this time try to recall an unpleasant experience or situation. Something that made you feel angry or sad, and once more see if you can relive it in great detail.

Step 6. Once again explore the physical sensations this memory creates. Where does it manifest physically, and how is this different from the sensation of happiness? Let yourself observe the differences between them, while taking a step back from actually feeling these emotions.

Congratulations! You are all done. How do you feel?
Personally I really enjoy this exercise, it makes me feel in control of my emotions and more aware of how I am physically processing them. The breathing also allows me to stay calm, and see those situations in different ways.

Please let me know if you tried and enjoyed this exercise, or if you have any mindfulness exercises or books to recommend. I’d very much appreciate it.
Until next time 🙂

Books, Mindfulness, Minimalism

Tidying Up

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondō has an enormous title. However as it’s really interesting and also has a Manga version, I will forgive the grievance. As far as I’m concerned Marie Kondō  can do no wrong!

Once you put your home in order, your life will change drastically. It’s the MAGIC that this book talks about. Success is 90% your mindset, but If you don’t acquire the correct technique you will undoubtedly rebound in your progress.

In terms of technique:

You just need to look at each object, one at a time, and then decide two things:
1. Whether you want to keep it?
2. Where you want to put it?
That’s it.

Undertake this process by category rather than by location. I.e. Clothes, books, eating utensils as opposed to lounge room, bedroom, bath etc. And start with the least sentimental categories, the practical stuff before you work your way through to the physical and emotional baggage.

Most importantly though, you need to tidy up all in one session. Get it done and dusted and you will find that it’s easier to maintain.

There are obviously many other components of this process, this is just an overview so read the book! You won’t regret it.

Books, Brain Hacks, Mindfulness, Minimalism, Motivation

One Thing

Change One Thing” another relatively small self help book by Sue Hadfield, is in some ways pretty straight forward and predictable, and yet it remains entirely helpful for the self help novice. It’s premise is simple: making just one change (however small) can impact the rest of your life. Although throughout its pages it suggests many small changes to assist in projecting this impact.

The past is over and only exists when you choose to recall it. Therefore you cannot let it get you down, instead see your mistakes or regrets as examples of how change will come to you whether you invite it or not. Start being pro-active about this unstoppable foe: Change!

• Motivation
It all begins with motivation. You want to be aware that you are living a life worth living while living it.
• Identification
Know who you are and what it is that you want. Know your values and embrace them.
• Recognition
Having purpose in life is in many ways more powerful than having your perceived “needs” met. Don’t delay following your purpose because you have yet to meet those needs. It’s like saying “I can’t do something until I get a better job” when by following your purpose or passion your inner life would be happier and that in turn would colour your outer life. A great life can be as easy as fulfilling your own potential.
• Procrastination
Procrastination is basically resistance to change. It stems from the belief that you either aren’t capable of change or you have to wait until change comes for you and you have no other choice. You may seek instant gratification and therefore become impatient with those small steps that eventually become a big change, or are a perfectionist afraid of making a mistake and therefore put things off. Instead of focusing on the negative outcomes try focusing on the positives.
• Inspiration
Clarify your goals, success comes from preparation, planning, research and staying power. So prepare! Research the changes you wish to make and ask questions about the process from people who have already been there, done that. Look at how these changes align with your values.
• Preparation
Keep on learning, keep on gathering information and prepare yourself for the inevitable setbacks. Success isn’t about luck it’s about persistence.
• Implementation
It’s all about finding time and working towards your purpose. There’s a danger in being busy doing things that don’t bring value or joy to your life. Don’t let life become a treadmill where you loose track of your values or purpose.
• Determination
Start now and keep going. Resilience is key, and a part of that is understanding and welcoming obstacles as a chance to see how far you come and re-evaluate your plans.

It’s all relatively obvious, but empowering regardless. A great book and one that actually takes the time to identify and describe the entire process from start to finish. Which is actually quite a unique feat for a self help book.

Motivation

Universe vs You

“The universe doesn’t care about you.”

It’s the central hypothesis of the book “The universe doesn’t give a flying fuck about you” by Johnny Truant. I’m not going to lie, yet again I was drawn in by the title. That and the fact that this eBook is free, relatable, funny, smart and it’s quite sarcastic too. There’s also a Battlestar Galactica reference and if that doesn’t sell you on this I don’t know what will.

Honestly this book is like a locker room speech style call to arms to start living your life. It’s deeply inspiring. Completely unhelpful in terms of techniques to achieve your goals, but definitely worthwhile reading for the sheer force of will it elicits.

In the grand big scheme of things we’re just a bug on the highway and the universe does not care about what we do with the nanosecond of time we have on this earth. But it’s for this very reason that we should care. Time won’t stop for us, the end is nigh so start doing “epic shit!”

 

Brain Hacks, Motivation

Intention is Key

I’ve been reading “The stuntman’s guide to learning anything” by Brett Solomano. I was hooked by the title, assuming rather incorrectly that it would be a how to guide for juggling chainsaws or executing a burnout in my driveway…

It’s not.

But despite my initial disappointment, I did find a few pearls of wisdom within this rather ill titled guidebook (seriously not even one word on how to do a wheelie) that made up for any feelings of animosity I had. It can all be whittled down into three main points.

The first being that intention is key! Intention is everything in fact, at least when it comes to learning. It’s therefore important to not only learn and therefore act deliberately, but to have a clear and precise plan for your actions. You must set clear and explicit goals early on, that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Ambitious
  • In the present tense
  • Re-adjustable and refinable
  • Timed
  • Tangible

Once your game plan is put in place, you then have to hold yourself accountable in actioning it. While you can let others know and have that outside force keep you in check, an even better way to encourage accountability is by acknowledging the milestones you reach towards your goal. Celebrate the progress you make and it will stimulate your brain to keep going.

Finally you have to learn to retain the information you collect, by understanding how the brain undergoes this retention process. Unfortunately it does not learn chronologically, so for example reading a book from start to finish will be unlikely to result in learning. But if you can base your enquiries on information that has relevance to your actions or has similarities/differences to information you already have stored (thus allowing you to build from previous knowledge) then learning becomes much easier.