London. I’m in London again. That’s so great. And I’m so grateful. In fact, I observed myself to be much more grateful these days.
Ready below, why this is the case 🙂
I’m grateful for little things and big thinks. The blue sky in the morning. The stars at night. A little leave waving in the autumn wind.
Fear disappears when you become grateful.
Says worlds leading life coach Tony Robbins.
And that’s true. You can try it. After a stressful meeting, discussion, after you felt anger, try this:
Look around you. Look for little things where you feel joy when you just see, hear or touch them.
Then do so.
Look at them consciously. Focus on them consciously.
Why am I much more grateful?
The reason why I am much more grateful is, at least that is my theory (and many scientists provide evidence for that), that I am much more mindful.
That is also the reason why I am in London. I have the pleasure to attend the Search Inside Yourself Program. A mindfulness-based emotional intelligence seminar.
Practicing mindfulness, or better say using mindfulness to train emotional intelligence, compassion, and perspective taking is supposed to increase personal well-being, focus, and performance.
In fact what I can see for my self is, that since I am practicing, which is a little over 11 weeks now, I find myself being able to discover when I am stressed, unfocused, unconcentrated or when I am time traveling. That is how James Altucher, multimillionaire, and author of the bestselling book “Choose Yourself”, calls it when you think about the past and the future, but not at all about the present moment.
Don’t worry. Many people do that. Look around you and discover how many people have this empty look in their eyes. They are thinking about something ahead of them or something in their close or distant past. They are time traveling.
This prevents them from being in the present.
And when you do this. It prevents you from being in the present. From living in the present. From experiencing what is right now. Days over days and hours over hours will feel lost.
I know what I am talking about. I experienced exactly that before I started practicing mindfulness. At the end of a week, I looked back and couldn’t figure out details of what I have been doing the whole week.
But, I know I was thinking a lot about: how I can reach my goals and what I should do as the next step towards them.
I was constantly thinking about the future.
And I was completely missing the present time.
And by missing present moments I for aure missed opportunities that would have brought me closer to my goals. I actually sabotaged myself.
Thinking about the future and setting goals is a great thing. Everyone should do it. But it shouldn’t be a 24h activity for your brain.
Because you will miss opportunities.
I became really upset about sabotaging myself and researched what I could do about it.
That was when I came across mindfulness.
So, what is mindfulness?
Short version (definition from the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute):
Mindfulness is the ability to focus on the present moment with curiosity and openness.
It means being aware of what is. Right now. Feelings, thoughts, people around you, sounds you hear, things you smell, things you touch, friends you listen to.
It means to be in an attitude of curiosity and kindness. Towards yourself and to others.
When you are mindful, you are a much better version of yourself.
It is a life-changing skill.
How does it work?
You pay attention to your breath. When it wanders away you bring the attention back to your breath.
This makes you pay attention to the present moment.
A better happier life just by paying attention to my breathing? Seriously?
Yes, seriously. By paying attention to your breath, and therewith to the present moment with kindness and curiosity.
What happens when you pay attention to your breath?
Your breath is your present time reminder. It is always there. And it happens now. It happens in the present moment. Always. By focussing onto it, by following it consciously, YOU focus on the present moment consciously.
Something interesting happens when you focus on your breath aka the present moment.
Image a snow globe.
These nice toys that you shake and then you see all the little snowflakes waving around in the globe.
When you stop shaking it, the little snowflakes will calm down and gather at the bottom of the snow globe.
Image the snow globe is your brain and the snowflakes are the time traveling thoughts, and all the influences from the outside and your feelings.
The shaking is all the influences we are exposed to today, messenger apps, advertisements, meetings, calls, noise, all the daily things your brain has to cope with.
When you pay attention to your breath it is like stopping to shake the snow globe. It is like putting it down onto a steady table.
It calms your brain down. The attention to your breath calms down all the time traveling thoughts. It helps your brain to deal with all these external and internal influences.
Important is: it does not stop the thoughts or pushes them away. It just helps your brain to just accept what is. You become aware that your brain is currently time traveling. And you can decide then if you’d like to continue or if you want to let these thoughts go away like little white clouds.
Another interesting thing happens when you stop shaking the snow globe when you pay attention to your breath.
Suddenly the snow globe becomes clear. You can look straight through it and you can see what’s behind.
Next to living in the present that is the other benefit of practicing mindfulness. You can have much more clarity and you can better focus on what’s real and present and happening now.
With a calm snow globe or brain, you have a much clearer mind. A much clearer mind enables you to take better decisions.
How does it benefit you?
Think about doing some fitness exercises, like running, swimming, curls.
Every time you do it you become physically stronger. You become physically healthier. You feel better about your self. You look better in the mirror. You have more self-confidence. You become more successful. Because you have fewer sickness. You have more energy at work. And you are happy.
So being physically fit leads to success, well-being, feeling great, confidence.
By doing mindfulness exercises you gain mental and emotional health and fitness. And emotional health and fitness are even more powerful than physical health and fitness. Every time you do a mindfulness exercise it’s like a bicep curl for your brain.
So, your brain can be trained. It is possible because of the so-called Neuroplasticity of your brain. What you do, what you experience and especially what you pay attention to changes the function and structure of the brain.
If you learn the skill of mindfulness, you learn to train your mental health and fitness. This will bring clarity and focus. And this will improve every aspect of your life, private, work, relationships, decision making, leading, everything.
Want to try?
You can try it right now.
Now? Yes. Right now. While you are reading this.
Close your eyes if you like (after you have read these instructions).
Breath in deeply into your stomach.
And breath out slowly.
Now you can close your eyes and do the exercise. 🙂
Done? Great! You just trained your brain. You just made one bicep curl with your brain.
Did you notice the little pause that was created in the middle of all the daily noise after you’ve finished your exercise?
Repeat this for 30 seconds if you want to feel this again.
How did it feel?
Try that before you enter your next Meeting, your next examen or before starting to eat.
If you want to go deeper I recommend these great Ressources:
Intel on Mindfulness: https://newsroom.intel.com/editorials/mindfulness-mediation-awake-intel/
Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute: https://siyli.org/results#performance
Founder of the Search Inside Yourself program explaining what is behind Mindfulness and Neuroplasticity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8fcqrNO7so
German Source about a long term study on Mindfulness: https://www.focus.de/gesundheit/gesundleben/stress/titel-immun-gegen-stress_id_3836466.html
When I now get off the Underground tube at Picadilly Circus now, the first thing I will do is take a deep breath in into my stomach and a long breath out. I’ll become aware of the present moment. Of the things around me.
Then I will start my journey through London.