Behavior Is Contagious – Especially With Fibromyalgia

People with fibromyalgia face many obstacles.

We live with fatigue, brain fog, chronic pain and other symptoms. We work to find ways to manage this syndrome. We seek coping mechanisms. Many fibro patients have overlook the importance of who and what we surround ourselves with.

  • This can have a dramatic affect on how we cope.

Conserving energy is an important part to coping with “Fibro Fatigue”. It takes far more energy to deal with negative people. Energy when you don’t have any left to expend.

Let’s look at who we surround ourselves with and the effects on our lives.

People You Should Remove from Your Life

  1. You have to cut the “downers” the negative people
  2. You have to cut out the “distractors”
  3. You have to get rid of “people who play the victim”
  4. You have to stay away from “know-it-alls”
  5. You have to dump the “drama queens/kings”

Neuroscience 101
Good and Bad Behavior Is Contagious

One study found that emotions circulate through interpersonal relationships just like the flu virus.

These patterns can actually be tracked statistically just like the flu virus.

  • Each positive person you surround yourself with increases your chances of being positive by eleven percent.
  • Each negative person you let into your life more than doubles your chances of being negative.

Understanding Why This Happens

A mirror neuron is a cell in your brain that fires both when you act and when you observe another person acting.  Interacting with other people engages your mirror neuron system. 

This brain mechanism causes you to copy other people whether you want to or not. If you spend enough time with anyone, no matter who it is, you will start to mimic their behavior.

This means you need to start cutting negative people out of your life right now.

Here is a short 2 minute video
explaining mirror neurons

Here are five types of people
to start avoiding now!

# 1 The “Downer”

Some people can walk into a room and light it up. Other people walk into a room and kill it.

  • Downers Are Those That Kill Positive Energy

They are those people who seem to have a dark cloud following them wherever they go. These people are unlucky, negative and always depressed.

Don’t feel bad for these people. Odds are:

They like being miserable
WHY?
They like the attention it gives them

You must drop unhappy people from your life. Why?

Because your happiness and your physical health depends on it. Research shows that being exposed to negative people pulls away neurons in your hippocampus. This is the part of your brain that is responsible for problem solving. This means that negative people literally rot your brain

Stop hanging out with people who suck away your energy

#2 Avoid Distracting People

Distractors come in a variety of flavors

  • There are those annoying people who drive you nuts.
  • People who make you focus on them instead of focusing on yourself and your mission.

Distractors are also those people that are truly amazing or really hot or incredibly brilliant.]

  • Those people who catch your eye for one reason or another.
  • Distractors make you forget about your goals and everything that you’ve set out to do in life.

A lot of promising futures
have been sacrificed to these distractors.

Some people drop out of school or quit a job they love, just to be closer to a distracting person. This allows them stay in that distracting relationship.

Others get hooked on celebrity gossip or get rich quick schemes

  • Everything that glitters is not always gold.
  • Most shiny things are just distractions and this can include people.

Don’t let any person make you forget that you are amazing – and that you have something amazing to offer the world.

#3 Stay Away from People Who Play the Victim

Don’t know how to identify a victim?

Here’s what you look for:

  • Look for people who preach self-sacrifice
  • Look for people who try to make you feel guilty for your strengths
  • Look for people who try to make you feel guilty for your accomplishments
  • Look for people who try to make you feel bad just because they are feeling bad

Victims are:

  • Masters of positioning themselves on the moral high ground
  • Using obligation to manipulate you into doing what they want you to do.
  • People who like to make you feel responsible for their happiness.

No one is responsible for someone else’s happiness

#4 Stay away from know-it-alls

Know-it-alls are those people who will never let you live down past mistakes. They bring you down by using  the psychological phenomenons of “Imposter Syndrome” and “Negativity Bias.”

Imposter Syndrome is describe as the inability to internalize your own accomplishments. It’s that voice in your head that creeps up every now and then telling you that you’re a phony and it’s only a matter of time until people find out.

Negativity Bias on the other hand refers to your brains preference for negative information over positive information.

  • Never allow anyone to make you feel bad about yourself.
  • Don’t let some” Know-it-All” use these techniques against you.
  • Focus on where you are now. Not on your past mistakes.

#5 Refuse to be around drama queens.

Drama queens/kings are those people who love conflict. They are addicted to drama and to winning arguments no matter the cost. Even if there’s nothing to be won. Drama queens love drama for the sake of drama.

  • They don’t want to win or find a solution they just want the drama.
  • Their minds are simple and their lives are boring.
  • The only way they can fill a sense of purpose in life is by creating drama.
  • Don’t let these people suck you into their drama.

Any time you spend trying to correct or even understand a drama queen is a waste of time. You are better off ignoring these people period.

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Everything in Your Life, Is Your Life!

I’m sick, very sick. Sick enough that after twenty years my team of doctors still have little idea what’s wrong with me. I am unable to work and unable to properly function at home. This is a challenging scenario for me. But, there are benefits here. There’s purpose in experiencing life in these ways. I am convinced of this because of a learned awareness of spirituality.

I grew up seeing spirits, astral traveling, feeling other people’s emotions, and hearing their thoughts. These experiences were so normal for me that I had to be taught how to “properly” interact with others. I learned that very few people could do the things I could, and that there were things I shouldn’t say to others. I had to curb my comments, very often just sharing knowing smiles.

These days it seems fewer people take responsibility for their life.
It seems less and less people master their emotions.

They don’t run their lives, they allow life to run them. Their problems are blamed on everyone and everything. Most never take responsibility for their own life. More importantly, they never take responsibility for how they feel.

Does life happen to you, or does life happen for you?

Think very carefully before you answer. The answer you give will shape your life.

Do you believe everything happens for a reason? I believe that life is hard. That we all are going to go through things that are hard and challenging. But, what if every painful experience in your life was actually sent to benefit you?

  • To make you stronger.
  • To make you wiser.
  • To make you better.

What if the challenge you are facing was sent to make you grow? What if the difficult person was actually sent to teach you things?

Things like:

  • Compassion
  • Patience
  • A reminder of how not to treat people

What if the loss you experienced was sent to make you appreciate the way we feel.

Everything in your life is your life!

Every human being decides how they are going to live their life.

It’s not the events of our lives that shape us, but our beliefs as to what those events mean.

We all decide what meaning we give to each and every moment in our lives. We do not decide what shows, but we do decide how we show it. We do not decide the circumstances that arrive each day, but, we absolutely decide how we are going to react to each circumstance.

There is no such thing as actual reality, there’s only our perception of reality.

Think about any event in your own life.

Your version of it, is only your opinion of it and will be completely different to many other people.

Two people could attend the same event, see the same things, speak to the same people, and leave with absolutely opposite thoughts about that event. How could this be it was the same event? That is because it’s an interpretation. The meaning both people gave the event is different. That meaning is based on the life of conditioning and personal experiences. A life of absorbing other’s opinions and therefore making our own.

The point is:

  • We decide that meaning.
  • We decide our perspective.
  • We decide our reality.
  • We decide OUR TRUTH!

The experiences I’ve had, force the point for me. I don’t ‘believe’ there’s more out there. I KNOW! I’ve had contact with various attuned and enlightened people who guided me through things.

They explained the subtle realms:

  • How energy in life flows
  • Why we are here on earth
  • The various and multiple layers of existence
  • The true nature of the soul and how we are connected
  • That there is no one formal religion that is right for everyone.

I’ve seen and experienced things that many people so readily disregard. People say ‘spirits aren’t real’ because they can’t know anything else. But, I know they are there, not just because I’ve seen them. I know they are there because the universe gave me teachers. Mentors that have been there with me. Coaching me through life’s interactions.

The universe guided me by:

  • Explaining that I should try things and see what happens
  • In learning to protect myself
  • To help them when they needed it
  • Most importantly, teaching me how to identify who they are and what they want.

There’s a great degree of science behind spirituality. Much more than you could think possible. That science, the understanding of connections and interactions between things, being able to control and shape them means I don’t have a choice. I don’t ‘believe’ anymore, I know!

Bob Marley said…

“Some people dance in the rain,
others just get wet.”

This is true for everything in life. Some people hate life. Some people just get by. But, some people live life to the fullest. Those people appreciate the little things, which in turn, make a huge difference in their lives. Don’t worry about what other people do!

What do you do?

  • Do you appreciate all the good in your life?
  • Do you look for the good every day?
  • Do you wake up expecting great things?
  • Do you believe every tough moment in your life is it to make you stronger and in some way improve your life?

Every meaning, you give to everything in your life, makes your life!

I know that my sickness is a part of my spiritual journey. It serves a purpose by improving me and those who interact with me. Every life and death, no matter how beautiful or tragic is a wonderful experience for the soul.

Don’t feel sorry for yourself or try to blame others for your misfortune. This is your doing and it’s an amazing thing that you’ve chosen for yourself.

There is no fault!

You need this experience in your life to evolve mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. You’ve got people around you who also chose to be there and experience a different reality to the situation with you. They’re also benefiting from you, learning and evolving as a result of your situation.

Choose empowering meanings, because the better your meanings, the better your life. The stronger your meanings, the stronger your life.

Between stimulus and response,
there is a space where we choose our response.

In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
It’s our decisions, not our conditions,
that control life and fulfill destiny.

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7 Rules to My Life, My Way!

I have lived with major depression, PTSD, ADD, Fibromyalgia throughout my life. I’ve walked the dark streets when I had no home. The darkness of loneliness competing with the darkness of the night. Many times I failed, I was rejected and I got hurt physical and emotional. I have accepted my role in my personal failures caused by these conditions.

Now this is what I  did:

I pressed the pause button to my life, refreshed my memory and made a clear passionate decision to change myself.  I follow 7 rules to change my life…

I follow the advice of my inner self:

I have passion and empathy. I always love to learn new things. I have the interest and commitment to do what I love.  There will be no regret because I am responsible for my decisions and actions. 

We always fixate on physical strength. Mental strength makes our life focused, planned and loved.

Meditation recharges me:

I meditate every day to make life laser sharp and free from distraction. I fight every obstacle in my life. I have failed hundreds of times. But, I get back up. Meditation gives me the courage and determination to work against the current.

[Tweet “I meditate every day to make life laser sharp and free from distraction.”]

Mental strength is key:

We always fixate on physical strength. Mental strength makes our life focused, planned and loved. What makes a bigger impact than talent or intelligence? Mental strength.

Research is starting to reveal that your mental strength plays a more important role than anything else for achieving your goals. That’s good news because you can do a lot to develop mental strength.

Less virtual life, More real life:

I am limiting my online activities. I now key in on my real life rather than a virtual life. I spend too much time on the computer. I am changing that habit. I spend less time on the internet. I have started to gain courage, experience new things, face my fears, socialize with authentic interest, and talk with strangers every day.

[Tweet “Less virtual life, More real life:”]

Imagine just before – the moment of your death:

All the materialistic thinking, fear, desire, frustration, failure will look meaningless moments before your death. Make the right decision for your life, never wait for others approval. One right decision can change your life. Whenever I am in a trouble, I try to think that way. Then everything seems clear to me. I make the right choice.

I withdraw from rat race:

I have officially withdrawn myself from the rat race of life. It does not mean that I have lost against the difficulties of life. I don’t compete with other people. My competition is only with myself. Every day, I try to top my previous day’s performance. I am chasing my passion. I am determined to reach my goal.

[Tweet “I have officially withdrawn myself from the rat race of life.”]

Anonymous help and gifts:

I love to help anonymously. It gives me pleasure. I love to donate money to poor families anonymously despite having my own financial limitations. Helping people is the best part of life. I feel happy to see the smiling faces of those people.

Write a gratitude list every day:

I am grateful to the universe for whatever I get from life. I write a gratitude list in my journal every day. I am alive, having sound health, food to eat in the fridge, a place to live, the unconditional love of my service dog,  time and tools to write, lead an independent life, get blessings from unknown people…

[Tweet “I am grateful to the universe for whatever I get from life.”]

A year ago I would have never guessed life would be the way it is now.

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5 Steps to Unplug Your Mind

Mindfulness teaches us that the same idea can apply to our minds as well. If we’re in some kind of emotional funk, or if the solution to a problem eludes us, we can learn how to unplug our mind—even for just a minute—and watch how many issues have disappeared when we plug back in…

5 Steps to Unplug Your Mind

  1. Stop. The first step to unplugging your mind is to stop everything you’re doing. This begins by stopping your body, and giving yourself permission to do nothing for at least a minute or so. You might try saying to yourself, “Just for this one minute, I don’t have to accomplish or change anything.”
  2. Let the mind wind down. Now imagine that each of your five senses is like a door that lets information into your mind. Close each of these doors and offer yourself the gift of quiet. Your mind takes in so many sights, sounds, etc., all day long. For just a minute or so, let it rest. Close your eyes, turn off anything you were listening to, stop distracting yourself in any way. Then, see if you can quiet your thoughts by telling your mind, “You can rest now. Nowhere to go, and nothing to do.”
  3. Come home. Now that you’ve stopped and quieted your senses, come home to yourself in the present moment. Pay attention to your breathing and the sensations in your body without trying to do or change anything. Say to yourself, “The present moment is my true home, and I have arrived.”
  4. Practice self-compassion. See if you can direct love and compassion toward yourself in this moment. Having let go of all busyness, try saying to yourself, “May you be well. May you be safe. May you be loved.”
  5. This is it. Finally, you recognize that everything you need to be happy is already present in this moment. You are alive, and the gift of life in infinitely precious. You can feel that your mind is completely at rest. Now you can return to whatever you were doing, and see how different it feels after having unplugged for just a little while.

Read The Full Story Here:
A Meditation to Recharge Your Mind – Mindful

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Important Things in Life

I’m sure you have experienced a wake up call at some point in your life. Events such as a divorce, a new baby, a firing, a terrorist attack, or a near-death experience tend to hit us like a ton of bricks and are not easily forgotten.

Personally, what I find interesting is that implicit in the idea of a wake up call is that we have, in some sense, been asleep. What is it that we have been asleep to? When I think of wake up calls, the word that comes to mind is “priorities”. Wake up calls tend to make us stop, pull back from the runway of life, and consider exactly what it is that is important to us. Very often we realize that we have had our priorities upside down. Perhaps we have spent too much time at the office, too little time with our kids, or have neglected our health. So to answer my earlier question, it seems to me that many of us travel through life asleep to what really is important.If you are in a slumber, the following are some ideas to help you wake up and remember the important things in your life:

Connect to Your Own Mortality

Some may find it depressing to think about death, but it can actually be a great technique to improve your life. Try, for example, to imagine laying on your deathbed. What could potentially give you cause for regret? Would it be all the money you didn’t make? Or would it be the friendships you didn’t nurture, the time you didn’t spend with your family, and the places you didn’t see?

Now, consider if the way you now live your life will give you cause for any regrets when you do actually come to lay upon your deathbed.

Steve Jobs was a famous advocate of connecting to your own mortality. In his Commencement Speech at Stanford University, he said: “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important thing I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life, because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”

Write a Personal Mission Statement

I admit to being one of those people who normally skips the exercises in self-help books. I did, however, decide to follow Stephen R. Covey’s advice in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and write a personal mission statement. In short, a personal mission statement is an individual statement of who you are, what you are about and what you value. The process of writing such a statement helps to clarify your inner-most thoughts and feelings, and once finished is something you can turn to for guidance.If you are interested in writing your own personal mission statement, I recommend Dr. Covey’s Mission Statement Builder.

Have a Meaningful Conversation with an Older Person

As you grow older, you naturally acquire experience and knowledge of what is important in life. For example, is there anything you could tell the “you” from 10 years ago that would make life easier? I’m sure there is. A great way then to acquire the wisdom that comes with age is to seek out an older person, such as a grandparent, and have a meaningful conversation with them. Ask them about their life, what they have learned, and what they would do differently. You may just find they experienced many of the thoughts and feelings you are currently when they were younger.

Meditate

Usually the problem is not that we don’t know what is important in life, but that it is forgotten as we get caught up in the everyday tasks that form life. One of the best methods I have found to overcome this problem is meditation. Meditation is a great way to relax both your mind and body. Such a state is ideal for gaining a better understanding of who you are and what you value.

Volunteer

It is easy in life to become consumed with your own sense of self importance. A very effective way to step back and see life in a greater context is to volunteer. For example, helping those with less than yourself will help you realize just how fortunate you really are. So often we act in such a way that we don’t already have the important things in life, when actually they are right under our nose

My Personal Mission Statement

Just as each person is unique, so will be their personal mission statement. That said, I believe we can find inspiration in the statements of others. The following is my personal mission statement.

  • I will be loving and proactive in building and maintaining my relationships with family and friends, so that I may be considered a successful husband, father, son, brother, uncle, and friend.
  • I will always act with integrity and never compromise with honesty, so that it may be said that I am a person who stands for what is just and right.
  • I will approach life with a curious nature, so that I am someone who continually strives to better understand both my inner and outer worlds.
  • I will look after my health by regularly exercising, eating well, and limiting the intake of anything that may be harmful to my body.
  • I will treat money as my servant, not as my master. I will seek financial independence over time. My wants will be subject to my needs and means. I will spend less than I earn and regularly save and invest part of my income.
  • I will try to help others live a better life by writing articles for my blog that are both inspiring and motivating.
  • When times are tough, I will remember there are still countless reasons I have to be thankful. As such, I will give something back to the community, via donation and volunteering, so that those less fortunate receive a helping hand.

Even just now, after having rewritten my personal mission statement above, I feel a sense of clarity and direction about my life.

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Learn to Understand Your Own Intelligence

Several years ago I listened to a lecture on cognition that changed the way I think about intelligence. This is the crux. There are two types of cognition. The first is normal cognition. This is the ability to retrieve knowledge from memory. When you are asked a question on a test and produce an answer, that’s a display of cognitive ability. The second type of cognition is metacognition; the ability to know whether or not you know.

Have you ever been asked a question that you knew the answer to, but you couldn’t find the right word? This is called the “tip of the tongue” phenomenon and I’m sure we’ve all experienced it. You know that you know the answer, but you fail to produce it. If someone said an answer, you would know instantly if it was correct or not. In these cases metacognition exists without cognition.

In short, cognition is knowing, metacognition is knowing if you know or not. Both can exist together, but many times they don’t.

How Does this Affect Intelligence?

So what importance does this have and how is it relevant to self improvement? The fact that there are two different kinds of cognitive ability means that there are different types of intelligence.

In traditional education, intelligence is measured by cognitive ability. For some people this is works well. They can easily produce everything they know on a test. But for others it doesn’t work out so well. The people that know something cold but can’t find the right words on a test are awarded with poor grades and considered inferior.

But does this inability make them any less intelligent? They know the answer. If the question came up on a task, they could refer to a book or a quick Google search. In reality they’re just as effective as the people that aced the test. They just can’t prove it as easily.

The Importance of Knowing what you know

Unless you’re taking a test or playing Jeopardy, metacognition is more important to success than cognition. In real life, when you’re faced with a question the first decision is whether you know the answer or not. With strong metacognitive ability this is easy. If you know the answer, but can’t come up with it, you can always do a bit of research. If you know for sure that you don’t know, then you can start educating yourself. Because you’re aware of your ignorance, you don’t act with foolish confidence. The person who thinks they know something that they really don’t makes the worst decisions.

A person with poor cognitive ability, but great metacognitive ability is actually in great shape. They might do poorly in school, but when faced with a challenge they understand their abilities and take the best course of action. These people might not seem intelligent at first glance, but because they know what they know, they make better decisions and learn the most important things.

Clever but mediocre people

At the opposite end of the spectrum are people with great cognitive ability but poor metacognitive ability. These people are proclaimed geniuses at a young age for acing every test and getting great SAT scores. Unfortunately, they’ve been ruined by poor metacognition; they think they know everything but they really don’t. They are arrogant, fail to learn from mistakes, and don’t understand the nuances of personal relationships; showing disdain for persons with lower cognitive ability.

So who is superior? In a battle of wits the higher cognitive ability prevails, but life is not a single encounter. It is a series of experiments in succession, each building upon the last. Learning requires knowing what you don’t know, and taking steps to learn what you need to. People with poor metacognitive ability never realize that they don’t ‘get it’. They also don’t realize what’s important.

This doesn’t preclude them from material success. But, perhaps that’s a poor measurement of intelligence as well. There are many people who become rich and successful by their cleverness and cognitive ability, but as human beings are quite mediocre. Is the man that makes a million dollars, but is cruel and abusive to his employees and family, really more intelligent than the poor man who lives a modest and loving life? I don’t intend to demonize wealth, only to state that it should not be the measure of virtue.

Use your metacognitive ability

So what do we know and what do we not? And how can we tell the difference? There is so much to know in the world that the most brilliant human minds can grasp only the tiniest fraction. For this reason we should always be in doubt of what we know. The closed mind is oblivious to its surroundings, while the open mind absorbs them. Like a sponge, it soaks up observations, becoming fuller and more robust.

But we can’t live in total doubt. If we did we would never act, paralyzed by our inadequate knowledge. We must trust our intuition. If something makes you feel a certain way, that feeling is real and must be respected. Act based on your own convictions, not those of others, and keep an open ear for new ideas.

The most important mental power is the ability to know what you don’t know. The recognition of a fault is the first step to improvement. Don’t try to hide a lack of knowledge. People will see through it and you’ll appear foolish and arrogant. If you admit your ignorance, people will help you learn and respect your humility. For intelligent people this is the toughest lesson to learn. We are used to being right, and consider being wrong shameful. We’re afraid to lose status by looking stupid. This vain arrogance is a great weakness and the source of many problems. To crush it and embrace humility is the mark of true wisdom.

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100 Ways to Cope With Stress

Get up 15 minutes earlier – Prepare for the morning the night before – Avoid tight fitting clothes  – Avoid relying on chemical aids  – Set appointments ahead – Don’t rely on your memory … write it down – Practice preventive maintenance – Make duplicate keys – Say “no” more often – Set priorities in your life – Avoid negative people – Use time wisely – Simplify meal times – Always make copies of important papers – Anticipate your needs – Repair anything that doesn’t work properly – Ask for help with the jobs you dislike – Break large tasks into bite size portions – Look at problems as challenges – Look at challenges differently – Unclutter your life – Smile – Be prepared for rain – Tickle a baby – Pet a friendly dog/cat – Don’t know all the answers – Look for a silver lining – Say something nice to someone – Teach a kid to fly a kite – Walk in the rain – Schedule play time into every day – Take a bubble bath  – Be aware of the decisions you make  – Believe in yourself  – Stop saying negative things to yourself  – Visualize yourself winning  – Develop your sense of humor – Stop thinking tomorrow will be a better today – Have goals for yourself – Dance a jig – Say “hello” to a stranger – Ask a friend for a hug – Look up at the stars – Practice breathing slowly – Learn to whistle a tune – Read a poem – Listen to a symphony – Watch a ballet – Read a story curled up in bed – Do a brand new thing – Stop a bad habit – Buy yourself a flower  – Take time to small the flowers  – Find support from others  – Ask someone to be your “vent-partner” – Do it today – Work at being cheerful and optimistic  – Put safety first  – Do everything in moderation  – Pay attention to your appearance  – Strive for Excellence NOT perfection  – Stretch your limits a little each day – Look at a work of art – Hum a jingle – Maintain your weight – Plant a tree – Feed the birds – Practice grace under pressure – Stand up and stretch – Always have a plan “B” – Learn a new doodle – Memorize a joke – Be responsible for your feelings – Learn to meet your own needs – Become a better listener – Know your   limitations and let others know them, too – Tell someone to have a good day in pig Latin – Throw a paper airplane – Exercise every day – Learn the words to a new song – Get to work early – Clean out one closet – Play patty cake with a toddler – Go on a picnic – Take a different route to work – Leave work early (with permission) – Put air freshener in your car – Watch a movie and eat popcorn – Write a note to a far away friend – Go to a ball game and scream – Cook a meal and eat it by candlelight  – Recognize the importance of unconditional love – Remember that stress is an attitude – Keep a journal – Practice a monster smile – Remember you always have options – Have a support network of people, places and things  – Quit trying to fix other people – Get enough sleep – Talk less and listen more – Freely praise other people – PS: Relax, take each day at a time…you have the rest of your life to live!

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How To Meditate Daily

The habit of meditation is one of the most powerful things I’ve ever learned.

Amazingly, it’s also one of the most simple habits to do — you can do it anywhere, any time, and it will always have immediate benefits.

How many habits can you say that about?

While many people think of meditation as something you might do with a teacher, in a Zen Center, it can be as simple as paying attention to your breath while sitting in your car or on the train, or while sitting at the coffee shop or in your office, or while walking or showering.

It can take just one or two minutes if you’re busy. There’s no excuse for not doing it, when you simplify the meditation habit.

Why Meditate?

Why create a small daily meditation practice? There are countless reasons, but here are some of my favorite:

  • It relieves stress and helps you to relax.
  • When you practice mindfulness, you can carry it out to everyday life.
  • Mindfulness helps you to savor life, change habits, live simply and slowly, be present in everything you do.
  • Meditation has been shown to have mental benefits, such as improved focus, happiness, memory, self-control, academic performance and more.
  • Some research on meditation has indicated that it may have other health benefits, including improved metabolism, heart rate, respiration, blood pressure and more.

Actually, some of the best benefits of meditation are hard to define — you begin to understand yourself better, for example, and form a self-awareness level you’ve never had before.

Most simply, sitting for just a few minutes of meditation is an oasis of calm and relaxation that we rarely find in our lives these days. And that, in itself, is enough.

How to Do It Daily

There are lots and lots of ways to meditate. But our concern is not to find a perfect form of meditation — it’s to form the daily habit of meditation. And so our method will b


1. Commit to just 2 minutes a day
. Start simply if you want the habit to stick. You can do it for 5 minutes if you feel good about it, but all you’re committing to is 2 minutes each day.

2. Pick a time and trigger. Not an exact time of day, but a general time, like morning when you wake up, or during your lunch hour. The trigger should be something you already do regularly, like drink your first cup of coffee, brush your teeth, have lunch, or arrive home from work.

3. Find a quiet spot. Sometimes early morning is best, before others in your house might be awake and making lots of noise. Others might find a spot in a park or on the beach or some other soothing setting. It really doesn’t matter where — as long as you can sit without being bothered for a few minutes. A few people walking by your park bench is fine.

4. Sit comfortably. Don’t fuss too much about how you sit, what you wear, what you sit on, etc. I like to sit on a pillow on the floor, with my back leaning against a wall, because I’m very inflexible. Others who can sit cross-legged comfortably might do that instead. Still others can sit on a chair or couch if sitting on the floor is uncomfortable. Zen practitioners often use a zafu, a round cushion filled with kapok or buckwheat. Don’t go out and buy one if you don’t already have one. Any cushion or pillow will do, and some people can sit on a bare floor comfortably.

5. Start with just 2 minutes. This is really important. Most people will think they can meditate for 15-30 minutes, and they can. But this is not a test of how strong you are at staying in meditation — we are trying to form a longer-lasting habit. And to do that, we want to start with just a two minutes. You’ll find it easier to start this way, and forming a habit with a small start like this is a method much more likely to succeed. You can expand to 5-7 minutes if you can do it for 7 straight days, then 10 minutes if you can do it for 14 straight days, then 15 minutes if you can stick to it for 21 straight days, and 20 if you can do a full month.

6. Focus on your breath. As you breathe in, follow your breath in through your nostrils, then into your throat, then into your lungs and belly. Sit straight, keep your eyes open but looking at the ground and with a soft focus. If you want to close your eyes, that’s fine. As you breathe out, follow your breath out back into the world. If it helps, count one breath in, two breath out, three breath in, four breath out … when you get to 10, start over. If you lose track, start over. If you find your mind wandering (and you will), just pay attention to your mind wandering, then bring it gently back to your breath. Repeat this process for the few minutes you meditate. You won’t be very good at it at first, most likely, but you’ll get better with practice.

And that’s it. It’s a very simple practice, but you want to do it for 2 minutes, every day, after the same trigger each day. Do this for a month and you’ll have a daily meditation habit.

Expanding Your Practice

Sitting and paying attention to your breath is really mindfulness practice. It’s a way to train yourself to focus your attention. Once you’ve practiced a bit while sitting in a quiet space, you can expand your mindfulness practice:

  • When you feel stress, take a minute to pay attention to your breath, and return your mind to the present moment.
  • Try taking a walk, and instead of thinking about things you need to do later, pay attention to your breath, your body’s sensations, the things around you.
  • When you eat, just eat, and focus your attention on the food, on your feelings as you eat, on the sensations.
  • Try a mindful tea ritual, where you focus your attention on your movements as you prepare the tea, on the tea as you smell and taste it, on your breath as you go through the ritual.
  • Wash your dishes and sweep your floor mindfully.

This, of course, is just a start. There are many ways to practice mindfulness, including with other people, while you work, and so on.

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