If you want to create the habit of eating mindfully, it is first useful to recognise the benefits of habits. Habits are fantastic. Your habits require very little energy. They increase your efficiency leaving space in your brain for the parts of your day that require you engage your brain and think carefully and purposefully. A habit is something that you do automatically a bit like the Nike slogan you “Just do it”.
So just think for a moment; it is the morning and you leave the house, jump into your car and drive away without thinking. Instead you think about your day ahead, you do a bit of planning and maybe even plan the dinner. How much are you thinking about changing gears, indicating or anything else. Do you need to think about driving? No! Now say it with me - you just do it.
As you can guess, creating the habit of mindfulness requires practice - just like you did when you learned to drive a car - so you get into the ‘just do it’ habit of it.
Now you may be thinking to yourself; sure, but how can you remember to practice in your already hectic life. Well one method is to choose to eat mindfully. The reason this is so useful is because it is something you do every day, more than once a day and so you get multiple opportunities to practice. Even if you don’t remember every time in the beginning, you can always decide to let that go and decide you’ll eat mindfully the next time.
Each time you go to eat, take a breath in and let it all the way out. Now stop, look at your food, its colour, shape, arrangement and all the little details that you normally overlook. Now breathe in the aroma and become aware there is more than one and they are complex. Be like a wine connoisseur identifying as many different scents as you can and describe them to yourself.
Now you are ready to take your first bite, notice the texture and the different areas of your mouth where the flavours develop. Take your time chewing slowly while you eat, become aware how you move the food in you mouth with your tongue and the resistance between your teeth. You will discover you enjoy your food more. You’ll experience the full taste of what you are eating. This also helps you eat less because your brain will have the opportunity to register when you are full.
Eating mindfully give you a little oasis of calm two or three times a day. It helps you slow down and gives your body the chance to relax before the next thing and as you know well there is always a next thing.
Are you ready to experiment with eating mindfully? Let me know how you get on.
Some people assume mindfulness is something you do away from work, in your spare time. But have you ever considered what working mindfully could do for your working day? Working mindfully means paying full attention to the task at hand, whether it is writing an email, attending a meeting, strategy planning or any one of the other myriad tasks that comprise your working day.
Multi-tasking is a fallacy:
What is multi-tasking? It is jumping from this to that without really paying attention to any of those shiny attractive tasks. It is a huge time waster because each time you switch tasks your brain has a lot to do to re-orient itself, it requires effort, you may not be aware of it, but it drains your mental energy ultimately reducing your productivity.
So instead of trying to do more than one thing at a time in order to feel productive, focus purely on one task. This not only helps increase productivity but it also ensures that you are focused on what you are doing at that moment. You’ll be able to apply all your senses to what you are doing, heightening the experience and putting yourself in the moment. You may find it useful to set a time limit for each task allowing you to move on. Something to experiment with?
Give yourself a break:
Spend at least 5 minutes every day doing absolutely nothing. This will help you clear your mind and relax. You can do this anywhere. Simply stop doing whatever you are involved in and do nothing. Clear your mind and focus on what is happening at that moment. Use all of your senses to experience it:
You might even find it beneficial to take a 1 or 2 minute break between tasks to really let go the last task and bring your whole self and focus to the next one. Why not give it a go?
If you would like to know more you might find this book of value:
Mindfulness at Work: How to Avoid Stress, Achieve More and Enjoy Life!
Or this TedTalk may give you some ideas for your work.
How do you plan to work mindfully? Let me know in the comments.
Mindfulness is a useful tool for reducing levels of stress and anxiety. By reducing levels of stress and anxiety you can help yourself create a more fulfilling life. While sitting meditation forms a significant part of it there are other things you can do to develop the skill of mindfulness and harness its power in your everyday life.
If you ant to discover more about mindfulness you might find this a useful book to read:
Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World
I’m going to let you in a little secret. It’s the secret to succeeding in just about anything and it’s quite simple. It’s almost impossible to fail at any task you set yourself, if you don’t give up until you finish. Persistence and perseverance are the paths to success in any area of your life. The hard part is getting into the habit of doing it regularly instead of giving up or getting distracted.
Here’s how you can teach yourself to be more persistent and persevere in anything you put your mind to. Start with a goal or dream. You have to know what you’re aiming for before you can get started. Once you have your desired end result firmly in mind, write it down. Next, figure out a deadline. When do you want to reach your goal? With that done, you’re halfway there.
It’s hard to be persistent when you don’t know exactly what you’re doing. If on the other hand, you know exactly what your next step is, it’s much easier to sit down and get it done. This is where a plan will come in handy. Look at your goal and map out how you will get from where you’re at right now to where you want to go. What you end up with is a list of tasks to work through. After that, it’s simply a matter of chipping away at them one task at a time. No matter how small or ambitious your goal, this simple step-by-step approach will make it easier to get there.
This really is the secret to persisting and persevering in anything. When you have your plan in hand, it will be easy to keep going. Simply don’t give yourself the option to give up until you reach your goal and you’re there. Start with something small and give this approach a try. It may be a little tough at first if you’re not very good at seeing things through right now. The good news is that it becomes easier and more natural with practice. A little effort now to develop these habits of persistence and perseverance will make it much easier going forward to do anything you put your mind to. If you ask me, those are habits well worth developing.
Start small, even if you decide to do just a part of a task it means you are working towards your result. Don’t allow yourself to give up on everyday tasks. With that practice under your belt put your eye on bigger tasks and plans. Before you know it you’ll be ready to tackle even the biggest and most involved projects and find yourself turning into the tenacious, productive person you’ve always wanted to be.
Go out there and get stuff done!
get a journal to support you
You know the expression the 'seven year itch', it's not as uncommon as you might think and it's not only in relation to marriage. Most people at some point feel that need for change, at work, in their relationships, or even the hobbies they enjoy. Just look back yourself now and ask yourself when were you aware for being keen for change and also ask what was the key trigger?
The trigger may be:
Check out the 5 Tips infographic below to support you when considering change. Enjoy.
It is interesting when you stop and start to look at your own thinking, or at least it is for me. With our upcoming referendum I have been clear in my own mind about which way I am going to vote, but when talking with friends who were actively campaigning or willing to have some awkward conversations I noticed my reluctance to do that.
With my best coaching hat on I asked myself what was stopping me? I don't know if you know this, but it is very difficult to coach yourself, anyway I digress. The glitches in my thinking as best as I could discover were: fear of trolls (excuse), not wanting to have an uncomfortable conversation where being open to hearing the other side can get clouded with emotion perhaps not only on their part (chicken), concern that it could influence potential clients - not in a good way (excuse), and so on, no judgement as you can see here. I'll stop there I don't want to bore you after all.
So eventually I decided courage was the only way to go was put it out there with a video and deal with any consequences later. Here is the video or click on either image
When you drive your car there is a fuel gauge that lets you know how much fuel you have left in the tank. In some cars there is a flashing light or it tells you "you have 45km left to go". Then you know you need to stop and refuel.
You also know after 30,000km, or whatever distance your car manual tells you, your car needs a day in the garage to get the oil changed, water topped up, perhaps the tyres renewed. Again you may have information flashing up on your screen telling you to do these things.
What about you? What lets you know it is time to stop to
Repetition is a powerful tool that helps you learn and master skills. Just look at our rugby team. You can't turn on the radio or open a paper, digital or otherwise without reading about the possibility of our team (Ireland) winning the Triple Crown, the Grand Slam and we already have the Six Nations. Isn't it just fantastic? Fingers crossed and everything else as well.
But how many of us mere mortals consider the hours, days, weeks and years of repetitive practice drills that have gone into building our players to reach this level. We just see the team out there performing. What we don't see is the commitment of our lads going out on the pitch, hail, rain or shine (believe it or not, they are humans too) and no doubt some days they would just rather take the easy way out and say to themselves "Ah sure, I'll just dodge practice today, one day won't make any difference". But they know it would make a difference. It could make the difference between losing or winning. Just one little thing, can make all the difference. Like Sexton's kick against France. Can you imagine how many kicks he has taken in his life ( I know I can't) until it has become second nature and he goes into the zone automatically?
Now we all know that no one is perfect and sure sometimes there can be a misfire. But that's not important, what is important is to let that go, put it aside and get back into the zone, the zone of confidence in your ability, so the next time you are up for it.
Now you might be thinking to yourself all this talk about rugby leaves me cold and that's okay too. But just think about it, professional sports people are in the top percentile of their chosen skill. So there is a lot to learn from them.
As you think now of something you want to master, whether it is delegating, presenting, leading your team, communicating with colleagues, friends or family, managing your healthy weight and exercise or even learning to knit. What small tasks or drills can you set yourself to practice in both your mind's eye and in 'real' life.
Let's clarify; the goal of the repetition is when you are presented with a similar situation you automatically perform the new skill without even thinking. This is mastery.
Come on Ireland!
Oh! And Happy St Patrick's Day.
Have you heard the expression "Laughter is the best medicine"? You could say it's a bit cliché but we use clichés every day, it doesn't mean they are untrue. I'm curious, did you know deciding to chose to smile or laugh can turn your mood around if you have been feeling a bit down.
When you want to feel more positive, make sure you spend time with people who are upbeat. If you are with others who are down as well, you're probably going to not to help each other leave that mood behind, so find someone who is happy or smiling to help you lift yourself.
No one can truly be happy 100% of the time. If you are unhappy more than you are happy, it could be time to seek some help. Now part of your therapy could very well be to use laughter.
You may find it surprising, there are clinics that promote laughing as part of the group. It entails gathering in a circle and forcibly laughing while the group participates. There is also laughter yoga. If you don't believe me just look it up on YouTube. It is quite entertaining and the participants definitely seem to enjoy it. It may seem strange to outsiders, but participants are proponents of the methods. They get a good feeling after the sessions, and many say they make great friends in the process.
Laughter helps lower stress as well. It releases endorphins in your brain which are responsible for creating that feel good factor. It is also believed to help in producing antibodies which can fight disease. Perhaps this is why the phrase, laughter is the best medicine, came about in the first place.
You can incorporate laughter into your own routine. Of course you may feel it is a bit strange in the beginning. But, even if it is forced, as you do more, you'll get more used to it and you will stop feeling strange over time. Here is the thing, smiling and laughing are the tools you need to change your mood. After a while, you will find yourself laughing for real rather than forcing it.
Go on experiment with it - just for fun - it will improve your general outlook on life. People you associate with will also notice and want to spend more time with you. Do commit to it for a consistent period of time. Notice the changes that you experience in your feelings. It is likely you will never go back to the way you were. While no one can guarantee using laughter will make you live longer and happier, what is there to lose? So the question is, why wouldn’t you use it if you’ve got nothing to lose?
To help get you started with this fun experiment, watch this old video below. Let me know if you can watch it the whole way through without smiling, giggling or laughing. When you really choose to go for it and laugh heartily with it, you will benefit all the more.
Do you find there comes a time when you are compelled to set goals whether in life or business and the journey towards those goals simply must be embarked upon?
Sometimes when you are in search of success in your life you might find yourself focusing on the goal, instead of on the journey towards that goal. The challenge is when you do this, you miss out on many of the lessons to be gained along the way, which will support not only with this goal but also future goals.
When you begin a goal journey, there is often a tickle of excitement, the fun of experimentation, a sense of momentum and motivation. Then when you accomplish your end goal, there is a wonderful feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment. The starting point and the end point are something for you to celebrate and so is the journey in between!
So you don’t miss out on any of the lessons along the journey from beginning to end, here is a useful technique to use:
Depending on your goal, whether it is becoming a more effective and confident presenter, build a more profitable business, improve your performance as a professional athelete or weight loss...really it does not matter...keep a journal of the process.
Keeping a written journal (either paper and pen, or online) can help you discover your thought and behavior patterns, positive and negative habits and can help you discover the thinking process you use and make you more aware of the actions you take...or don’t take. Some of these things will be obvious to you – they will not be surprising, at all. But some of the things you will learn about yourself will come as a total surprise, and herein lie the valuable lessons - the difference that makes the difference.
By learning what works, and what doesn’t work, how you tend to react to when things go well and when they do not, you have an opportunity to begin to learn to adjust your course based on where you are at that moment. And being “in the now” is a life lesson that can’t be underestimated!
When you take the time to examine the how and why of your process, you learn valuable lessons about your action and reaction. These lessons can be used in all areas of your life to facilitate achieving bigger, better, more useful goals. When you are aware of your strengths and weaknesses, you can use that knowledge to play to your strengths and minimise your weaknesses.
But if you are unaware of the intricacies of your journey, you will miss these incredibly valuable insights and lessons.
Keeping your eye on the goal while becoming aware of the journey is the fastest way to embracing the success you’re after!
DOWNLOAD: My Task Journal
Julie Silfverberg has worked in the field of personal and professional development for more than 20 years. She works with a diverse and exciting group of people. Each with their own unique talents and potential.