8 Ways to Deal With Entitled Anger

Anger is a valid emotion, and it should be expressed not simmered nor irrationally misused. The crackling emotion should indicate the painful experience without an unhealthy sense of entitlement. Perhaps we are often challenged by hurtful incidents, injustice, negligence, wrongdoings, or any other reason that threatens our sense of self or the greater good, and probably it stirs up negative emotions in every tissue and cells of our body. Still, it does not justify mindless behavior that prevents us from deeply listening or implies us to make biased and flawed decisions with awful consequences.

Learning to tame the exaggerated anger even worse, the hostility that drives people away will help us live as a cooperative human being. Our social interactions will improve, and the reasonable individual in us outshines our reptilian brain. It takes plenty of self-awareness to express anger affectively, and maturely. And surely it does not happen overnight. Here are a few suggestions to reflect on:


Identify the primary motive behind your anger

  • Question the intensity – Reflect on the past situations when your anger got better of you. Was it fear, frustration, ego, guilt, shame, anxiety… that made you erupt like a volcano? Once you have the clarity of reason, examine your intentions to understand your behavior better when you are discharging your negative emotions.
  • Compressed or unaddressed anger can manifest in different ways; look for the signs: for instance, mean sarcasm, apathetic attitude, self-sabotaging by not responding to the opportunities, being annoyed by trivial things, having controlling or addictive behaviors, nervous habits, blowing out of proportion a minor incident, chronic fatigue.
  • Ask yourself, is the strong emotional outburst cascading the underlying reason of self-entitled mentality? Exhibiting self-pity, over-exaggerated sense of self-importance, uncompromising attitude, showing signs of frustration when others think differently, passive contempt, cynical, or absurdly critical outlook are typical indications of a self-entitled mindset.

How to curb your entitled anger

  • Learn about the core attitudes of mindfulness and practice them every single day.
  • Do not live in the past, one type or another; hardships are part of life. How you handle the past distressing experiences will influence your present and future. Transforming bitterness and resentment to understanding and generosity by permitting others and yourself to make mistakes is a good start.
  • Stop comparing yourself to others to take the edge off the self-entitled mindset. Focus on what you want to achieve and make a list of the steps you need to take to make them happen. The key is not to get discouraged; there will be setbacks, you will fall, but learn to rise and keep going.
  • Do things not for the reward but because it is the right thing to do. It is always nice to receive acknowledgment for a good deed; however, accept that life does not work that way, and your efforts might be undermined, unrecognized, or simply unrewarded.
  • Practice treating others with compassion and respect.
  • Be happy for others for their achievements. Celebrating other people’s success when you are facing adversity shows beyond doubt the strength of character. 
  • Learn to change – For instance: Join a group that their activity or point of views are unfamiliar to you. Spend time to help the less fortunate through volunteering.
  • While the idea to cultivate restraint is good, there may be times that we need some support. Hence, reaching out for professional help to tackle personal anger issues is a sensible approach.

Featured image by Carina Shoshtary

Irrational Beliefs – Part 3

The truth is that the universe naturally shapes our lives through different disruptions. Along the way, different events and individuals will challenge us and push us to unfavorable situations. And the changes will affect how we feel about ourselves, how we relate to others, and how we behave. Problems can trigger irrational beliefs called cognitive distortions. Here are another set of 3 irrational beliefs to be aware of:

Magnification (Catastrophizing) or Minimization – It consists of making a mountain out of a molehill. Or, on the flip side, downplaying the significance of an event or an emotion.

A Magnification example is when an individual thinks that something catastrophic such as suffering a fatal heart attack, will happen. Or when athletes believe that they are inadequate team players because of a mistake.

A Minimization example is when you receive a raise, and you still feel not very good at your job.”

What to do: 

  • In both cases, write down your concern in detail, put into words your emotions, and challenge them.
  • Consider a core principle of Stoicism: “Some things are in our control and others not.” Such as sudden heart attack, illness, traffic, not being able to score a goal, the list goes on.
  • Remind yourself the validity of your emotions is reflections of your thoughts.
  • Keep in mind what you can control is your response and your actions.
  • Challenge your opinion with facts.

Should Statements – the tendency to impose a set of unrealistic or non-viable expectations for yourself or others. The should, ought or must statements indicate obligations that we cling on to, and generally, we get angry if they do not meet our expectations.

What to do:

  • Stop evaluating yourself and others based on statements that signal control and rarely make sense.
  • Adjust your statements to express your preferences, and, alternatively, acceptance of reality is sensible. This way, you are acknowledging that sometimes things are not how we like them to be! Hence, the situation will be less infuriating, and your response will be more sound. For instance, when someone’s actions are misaligned with your expectations, the statement can be expressed: “I prefer if you were more considerate,…”

Labeling and Mislabeling – When you reduce yourself or others based on one characteristic or an incident, basically overgeneralizing a situation, a habit, or a trait with hurtful and emotionally loaded description. For instance: “I failed my exam; I am stupid.”

What to do: 

  • Write down your thoughts and the language you have used to express your sentiments.
  • Recognize the double-standard method you used to communicate your feelings and the lack of compassion or a kinder behavior bestowed on a friend.
  • Practice thinking in shades of grey by rating how you feel on a scale of worst to the best. You will notice that many incidents or actions are not as extreme as we label them.
  • Define what does it mean to be a failure or insecure or any undesired labels?
  • Revisit the labels that you have applied to yourself and others. Talk to yourself like a friend.

Remember that not everyone can reduce or treat cognitive distortions by itself. At times, therapies such as CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) is the best way to learn about coping strategies to deal with challenges.

 

Artwork by Antonio Mora

How to Avoid Irrational Beliefs – Part 1

Generally, our brains are wired to control our thoughts and make connections to find solutions to our problems. However, some of these connections are not true or non-helpful since they are based on faulty patterns or biased perspectives on ourselves and the world around us.

These cognitive distortions are often hard to recognize as they have been reinforced as part of our daily thoughts. Even though they come in many forms, irrational beliefs share a commonality, such as a pattern of thinking; they are flawed and potentially damage our mental well-being.

Here are 3 tendencies out of 11 that we will explore in this post:

The fallacy of change – It involves two different but related beliefs that are damaging and inaccurate:

  1. For instance, being helpless and a victim of fate: “the quality of the report was mediocre since my manager gave me a brief the other day.
  2. Being in complete control of ourselves and our surroundings, hence feeling responsible for the pain and happiness of those around us. For instance: “Are you sad because of me?” 

Remind yourself that complete control is faulty reasoning since no one has absolute control over their situation or other people. Even in a crisis, you might not choose what you do or where you go, but you certainly have a choice over how you mentally approach the event.

Polarized thinking or black and white thinking is irrational thinking characterized by the “all or nothing” principle. These individuals tend to think in extremes, which are either impressive or terrible, and have unrealistic expectations. They are often easily annoyed, feel bitter, and disappointed due to their inability or unwillingness to see gray shades. For instance: an extremely competitive person believes that he/she should be “number one or nothing at all.”

Overgeneralization – This is when you use excessive language in your assessment of people or events. For instance, when you are in a hurry and other drivers are not moving fast enough or are stopped by red lights. So you start generalizing this event to an overall pattern. In this example, the individual’s focus is only on red lights! Or you have failed an exam, and you decide that you are stupid or a failure. The way you evaluate your situation and the language you use matters since you will respond to the pattern instead of just that particular event.

Being aware of your predispositions will help you improve your ways of thinking and mental health. To start, notice how you talk to yourself and examine your assumptions. Identify harmful beliefs and challenge them.

 

 

Featured Artwork by Jeffrey Dirkse

Silence Is Power

Silence is the preparation to understand the world around us. Of course, it all depends on how we use it.

  • An earnest silence nourishes the soul and enables awareness. It allows new thoughts to emerge as it stimulates a receptive mind.
  • An enthusiastic silence creates alertness and interest to hear and encourage clarification.
  • Silence brings calm and serenity with others and nature.
  • Silence is a way to doze, to resent, to rage, to be indifferent or detached.

Although there are many intents and purposes for silence, one cannot deny that it plays a vital role in creating something better, meaningful, and peaceful. In the creative world, from composers to writers and artists, silence is used to create a space to communicate ideas without agitation to enhance the experience and encourage comprehension.

Artwork by Michael Whelan

Maybe we should all contemplate the power of silence and how effectively we can communicate without rattling on.

Truly, we should all learn to dwell in silence to express our thoughts and engagement. Knowing that silence is one of the conditions within our power to control, this dynamic state must be part of our daily lives. Certainly, immersing in silence is not an easy task. There are many scenarios that we lose the capacity to be silent, in highly stressful situations, in serious discussions or even self-talk. However, the core understanding of the following statements can help us navigate our emotions and use silence to connect with our creative and strong self.

Silence to calm a situation

You don’t have to turn this into something. It doesn’t have to upset you.”

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 6.52

Engage in meaningful talk

“Be silent for the most part, or, if you speak, say only what is necessary and in a few words. Talk, but rarely, if the occasion calls you, but do not talk of ordinary things—of gladiators or horses races or athletes or of meats or drinks—these are topics that arise everywhere.”

Epictetus

As a stoic visualize the worst thing that can happen and champion you fears

“Silence is a lesson learned through life’s many sufferings.”

Seneca

You are in control 

“Remind yourself that your task is to be a good human being; remind yourself what nature demands of people. Then do it, without hesitation, and speak the truth as you see it. But with kindness. With humility. Without hypocrisy.”

Marcus Aurelius

The best answer to anger is silence

“Better to trip with the feet than the tongue.”

—Zeno

Stay humble

“Work hard in silence; let your success make the noise.”

– Frank Ocean

On a final note, be present, be conscious as Rumi said: “Silence is the language of God, all else is poor translation.”

 

Artwork from Chris Levine 

Positive Vibes in 100 Words

In my next series, I aim to share life experiences, the latest tools, and practices to develop a positive attitude and cultivate constructive thought habits.
A positive mindset is to use your intelligence and knowledge to set goals, manage pressures, and change the negative script to a promising one. The message is to recognize that positive thinking manifests ecstasy in our lives, boosts our health and well-being and shapes a valuable self-narrative.
In that spirit, knowing well that no one can keep upbeat all the time, here are positive mottos to live by in 100 words:

Self-acceptance. Live courageously. Express your thoughts clearly. Explore your ego. Break the habit of instant gratification with fulfilment. Have gratitude in your daily life. Step out of comfort zone and aim for growth. Cultivate resilience which is a formula for happiness. Work with your strengths to experience the state of flow. Give meaning to your life by helping others. Focus by being mindful. Choose to reflect and not to agonize. Smile and laugh and hug. Expect good sensibly. Be kind. Forgive. Move away from blame game & take responsibility. Emotions are data, use them wisely. Embrace the uncontrollable. Live purposefully.

Featured image by Konrad Bak

Your Flaws are beautiful! Positive Vibes Series: Self-Acceptance

Accepting all facets of yourself elevates you to a higher level of your being. When you recognize your weaknesses, you shift towards a mindset that thrives from a position of strength. Imagine in a job interview where you are focused on pointing out your best qualities, skill sets, and ambitions, and as soon as the question of listing your weaknesses is raised, you are quick to hush it up. How? Either by changing the subject swiftly or by expressing your enthusiasm to acquire the required skill.

Regardless of which response you choose, you have to realize that self-acceptance is free of any qualification. It happens when you are deeply connected to your true self, and you are aware that your passion, your inadequacies, your resolve, or shortcomings are part of you. Just by spicing up your self-perception with a little bit of encouragement and a mindset keen to learn from mistakes, you will stamp the sign of self-acceptance on your résumé. Without it, your mental state will suffer, and most probably, all the actions taken to improve the side effects will be less helpful.

In particular, if you feel anxious or stressed from a flaw in your character, all kinds of practices to reduce the unwanted emotions will be quick to fade from lack of self-acceptance. All the negative self-talk and thoughts will limit the gray matter in your brain region, which helps control your emotions and stress. The more you feel bad about yourself, more stress signals disrupt your emotional wellbeing.

How to strengthen self-acceptance

  • Reframe the negative criticism and change the narrative by refocusing on the positive aspects of yourself.
  • Control your state of mind by being self-aware. For instance, when you feel bitter, observe that your focus is evaluating your emotions based on your triggered feelings. This approach is misleading. Move away from how you think and assess the feeling based on your values before you react or retaliate.
  • Practice self-transcendence – Lack of self-acceptance is often beyond your conscious control. For example, the intentional process of forgiveness, whether oneself or another, has lots of roundabouts, water puddles, and intersections. The path is confusing since you can either choose the clear road so that you can keep going without wasting time or get to the other jammed packed lane, hampered by the gridlock, and be miserable. The first step is to accept that the two lanes exist side by side. The same acknowledgment should be extended to different facets of your character. In such a situation, self-transcendence is constructive. This positive trait aims to create awareness and unity with oneself, which in turn reduces stress and anxiety.

Taking a step to look inward and rely more on your values rather than identify your being with things outside of yourself reframes your self-perception. For instance, transcendental meditation or connecting at a deeper level by contribution to a venture or a community de-clutters your mind of unnecessary and negative energies. At the heart of all your practices, unity is your guide. Adhering to a higher purpose, confronting your fears, staying positive are the extensive attempts to reach self-acceptance.

 

Featured image by Durmoosh

What Are You Scared Of? Positive Vibes Series: Build Courage

Get up and show oomph! Be bold, be confident, thread your way through what people think of you, the obstacles, and everything that stirs up a weakness. Gird up your loins and get rid of your doubts and uncertainties.

Sounds familiar? Well, often, the voices in our head are loud enough to nudge us to take action. Still, we turn the volume down and list all the things that could go wrong and all the possible sufferings that can happen because we are afraid.

Aristotle (philosopher 384-322 B.C.) defines “fear as pain or disturbance due to a mental picture of some destructive or painful evil in the future.” Even though he indicates that wickedness and stupidity are evils, but they do not frighten us. Or we are not troubled by things that are a very long way off, such as death. What makes us anxious and fearful is when things have the power to harm and cause significant pain.

Fear is seen as an evolutionary necessity that can help notify a person whether they should proceed in their current direction or find another course to increase the likelihood of survival (Cannon, 1914; Ohman & Mineka, 2001). With this in mind, living a braver life is not to act naively, but to break down those potential problems and build a ladder to face the fears.

For instance, feeling anxious about air turbulence when flying is normal but refusing to travel is a debilitating and irrational fear. What constitutes courage is that you voluntarily take action to accomplish your goals when you have identified the potential problems. Being alert and being fully conscious that things might go wrong is to build the capacity to become braver in the face of challenges and setbacks.

In contrast to existing ideas that tell us to keep away from stress, you can leverage your anxiety and stress by rehearsing the tension and fear. Physical challenging experiences, contests, adventure activities are all character-forming pursuits that develop courage. Taking cold showers in the morning, a ritual that activates stress hormones which makes you think clearly, to engage in high-intensity workouts such as cycling, rock climbing, or running that help with your general health or intermittent fasting, are techniques based on the Stoic philosophy of self-denial that builds resilience against everyday stressors.

Now, in highly uncertain situations, evidently, you have no real control. By adopting a mindset that the only thing you have control over is your response, which is fostered by your values and attitudes towards life, you can transform the uncontrollable to manageable.

As Epictetus said: A Stoic “sage” never finds life intolerable, but sees in every challenge as an opportunity to test and improve oneself:

You should look to the faculties that you have, and say as you behold them, ‘Bring on me now, O Zeus, whatever difficulties you will, for I have the means and the resources granted to me by yourself to bring honour to myself through whatever may come to pass.’ (TD, Book One, Ch. 6, p. 18).

Featured image by Igor Morski

Communicate Clearly – Positive Vibes Series

What separates us from other animals is the use of language. Animals do communicate in many different ways, through smell, dancing, or touching. What sets us apart is our verbal expression and, importantly, our ability to communicate clearly.

It is not always easy to communicate your thoughts, the use of words might be misunderstood, and our bodily gestures might be misread. We tend to say nothing and expect others to understand what we are thinking telepathically. We don’t get off our chest our concerns and blame or accuse others of indifference. We get annoyed, feel defensive, and respond in anger because we tend to ignore or hold on to things that we have not been able to voice with clarity, and the list goes on. Well, until we all evolve and become Professor X, it is to our best advantage to learn and hone our communication skills instead of reacting to our unvalidated assumptions.

Regardless of the concept and whether the conversation is personal, professional, or addressing an audience, the pillars to an intelligent and useful talk are based on:

  • Know your purpose
  • Know your intention
  • Know the meaning

Once you have wiped out the haziness through the process of exploration of your intention and how it all relates to you and your audience, make sure that you practice non-judgment. This attitude will reinforce your efforts to express your thoughts with common sense and gives you the wisdom that a broad spectrum of opinions exists. Be mindful that rational explanations or points of view will probably be presented and that they might be totally in contrast with what you believe.

Often, we engage in communication that the result is unknown; hence, it is advised to make every effort to learn more about the anticipated topic while exchanging your point of view. Remember that our goal is to speak to be heard in our everyday conversations with family members, friends, colleagues, or at a business meeting. In establishing real communication, Carl Rogers, humanistic psychologist, believed that people, especially in insensitive and controversial issues, should give up traditional and legalistic kind of arguments and use a non-threatening approach based on shared and common goals. He was convinced that people stop listening or reading to a writer or speaker who makes them angry and puts them on the defensive. Hence to influence people, you should care about communicating with them rather than pointing the errors of their way. 

Last but not least, cut through the noise, the unambiguity, and always ask yourself why you are engaging in a conversation. The magic of questioning your intention unconsciously appeals to your character’s smart, intelligent, and thoughtful part.

 

 

 

Break The Habit of Instant Gratification With Fulfilment – Positive Vibe Series

“I want it, and I want it now,” sounds familiar? Needless to say that it is tough to resist the badly behaving inner voice, which demands an instant reward. Like that piece of magnetic chocolate in the cupboard that somehow telepathically stimulates your tastes buds or browsing aimlessly the social media to get an update on your imaginary friends. Of course, not being able to resist comes with a bold headline, featured as “the lack of purpose and meaning.” 

Sara Shakeel
Sara Shakeel

While the previous statement is a significant blockage, brain chemistry is enormously responsible for reinforcing the unproductive feeling, such as instant gratification. Once you experience joy, your brain is exposed to dopamine, and deliberately the brain encourages you to continue doing what made you feel good. This is called the dopamine reward circuit, which involves several parts of the brain and fortifies good feelings. Hence, unaware of the joy’s source, anything that triggers the gratification releases the chemicals, and the brain perceives it as a pleasure source. 

Sara Shakeel
Sara Shakeel

Now that you know the brain’s basic physiology’s reward system, the next step is to consciously bridge the way for your present self to reach your future self by taking advantage of the feel-good chemicals ferrying in your neural pathways. Having said that, your goals and your future self need not only a vision board but, most notably, a philosophical vision to overcome procrastination or curb instant gratification. That vision, or you may call it inspiration, must be ingrained deep into your values and aligned with your temperament.

  • Make a list of your goals, your resources, your talents, your shortcomings, and your inadequacies. Don’t be shy jot down all the self-descriptive adjectives to see what you need to improve on and what you could solidly leverage to reach your aspirations.
  • Once you have the list in front of you, start an inner-dialogue and try to convince your present self why your goals are important.
  • Attach meaning to your goals by re-examining your intentions. At this stage, the philosophical vision becomes crystal clear.
  • Choose the most challenging goal. Why? Since you have to work super hard to reach it. As Pluto said: “Do one thing and do it well.”
  • In full awareness, accept that life is full of agony, traumas, sufferings, and delays.
  • Tap into your higher intelligence to embrace the benefits of delayed gratification. As humans, we can exert self-control. Make use of it, consider your promise to your future self, know your “why,” and avoid temptations.
  • Every day remind yourself of your intended goal so that you stay on course.
  • Be consistent, even if you feel miserable, put as much effort as possible since a fraction of the required work is better than none.

Staying motivated is not an easy task, so don’t wallow on it if you slip up. It happens, we all struggle, rather than giving in to your impulses again and falling into a vicious cycle, the best way out is to know that new habits take time. With patience, you can put your abilities to work to reach your goals.

Explore Your Ego – Positive Vibes Series

It would be helpful if every time you act upon your impulsive ego, a holographic screen appears in front of your eyes, which would shed light on “why” and outlines the motive! Or, perhaps, you go through an out of body experience to watch how you are entrapped in heedless and primitive impulses, which impel you to be helpless and act irrationally. Possibly, in the future, with the help of technology, you will be able to materialize such visual awareness. Till then, you might as well resort to certain practices that will push you to another level of existence, far beyond hopeless confusion.

First of all, let’s reflect on the sense of ego; whether delving into Eastern philosophy or psychoanalysis, both recognize that uncontrolled and impulsive ego will lead to suffering. 

Moving through different stages of ego to become the best version of yourself is not an easy path. The truth is that if you are lucky, life will sweep you through nasty havoc that will wound your self-identity and crush your image. A breakdown that can lead to a breakthrough by feeding the ideal self. Now, rising from the ashes is to take responsibility for your wellbeing. It starts with realizing that your thoughts are tainted by subjectivity and emotions since your mind has found security in the sense of belonging to the wrong structures, misinterpreted values, and egocentric pursuits.

While you are climbing up the spiral staircase of your spiritual evolution, I suggest you observe and question your motives, your triggers, contradictions, and practice the following transformational self-help:

  • Gain clarity by self-reflection and self-criticism – question your goal; if you feel uneasy about your reactions, cross-examine yourself to align your intent to your essence. Self-analysis is not about beating up oneself or agonizing but to understand the triggers, your role in the event, and blowing away the pollution so that the image of your intentions becomes sharp and transparent. The focus should be on you and not others.
  •  See yourself from another perspective – use abstract thinking to match your motives to your best possible self. That entails imagining your future “Self” in unpleasant circumstances only when channeling your energy to shield your best version. By setting unwavering rules to be of service to all, however, is possible and live as a human, your future “Self” releases toxic struggles and replace the void with contentment.
  • Question the expectations – step back and reassess your approach and your expectations and how they connect to the problem. By re-evaluating the expectations, you will recognize the difference whether they are conventional & reactionary or wise and tolerant.

Remember, you cannot fill the bowl with water if it is turned upside down. To be fully alive is to be well-disposed to “Self” and others. The key is to question your motives every time the destructive “Self”/ “ego” appears. Taking a volunteering leap to an inspired “Self” means using your knowledge, patiently, and for good. Have grit, as the journey is bumpy, and evidently, the spiral staircase will not get more comfortable. You will fall back a few steps, and you will be aware of your limitations. However, regardless of the hardships, this time, with conviction and a humbled “ego,” you know how to get up quickly and how to wipe up the dust. Finally, as you go further, you realize that gratitude and generosity are your mental tools to serve and use your power to benefit others so that you act like an intelligent being.

Featured image by Tom Roberts

Have Gratitude In Your Daily Life – Positive Vibe Series

When I lie on my back and look up at the Milky Way on a clear night and see the vast distances of space and reflect that these are also vast differences of time as well, when I look at the Grand Canyon and see the strata going down, down, down, through periods of time which the human mind can’t comprehend . . . it’s a feeling of sort of an abstract gratitude that I am alive to appreciate these wonders, when I look down a microscope it’s the same feeling, I am grateful to be alive to appreciate these wonders. 

Richard Dawkins

The concept of gratitude is described in different ways as an emotion, a virtue, or an attitude. Whatever your understanding of gratitude, often, it is defined by a two-step process: 1) “recognizing that one has obtained a positive outcome” and 2) “recognizing that there is an external source for this positive outcome.” (Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough). Yet, whatever your disposition with its meaning, interestingly, gratitude is not merely a cultural creation. Scientific research has shown that the concept is embedded in our evolutionary development. For instance, it has been observed that birds, vampire bats, or fish incur some costs to themselves in helping another member of their species, in view that it might be beneficial to them, eventually.

Furthermore, scientists suggest that gratitude has been developed gradually from this “tit for tat” behavior, better known as “reciprocal altruism.” A process that is based on turning strangers into friends who will likely help one another. Further studies on chimpanzees support this idea that these primates share food with another of their kind if they have been groomed or helped by them in the past. Or, studies from neuroscience have observed some areas in the brain that involve experiencing and expressing gratitude. 

Consequently, gratitude is an inherent cognitive response strongly associated with greater happiness and better physical health. A study has shown that people’s heart health improves when they show appreciation, which is related to gratitude. Regardless of how you feel, express, or express gratitude, this emotion undeniably builds stronger relationships, creates good experiences, increases our well-being, and cultivates an optimistic attitude. Not to mention, gratitude has psychological benefits perceived as an intervention to overcome negativity. Moreover, individuals who have a grateful disposition are better protected from various forms of burnout. For instance, athletes who have grateful mindsets are less prone to burn the candle at both ends.

Nevertheless, the ability to be grateful requires seeds of humility and the willingness to develop our disposition intelligently. One of the most effective ways to cultivate gratitude is to keep a journal. Studies have found that “counting your blessings” for ten weeks and keeping them in a gratitude journal increases optimism and improves life satisfaction, self-esteem, and, importantly, decreasing depression symptoms. Knowing well that as humans, we are more sensitive to negative emotions than positive. For instance, we will be miserable if things are taken away from us than if we were to receive a gift. Needless to say that being grateful does not translate into living a modest life with no ambition. On the contrary, gratitude is one of the essential components of self-improvement. It starts with full awareness of what can go wrong, what we can be grateful for, nurture a positive mindset, and build on our skills to reach our goals and progress.

In the meantime, remember:

Learn to be thankful for what you already have while you pursue all that you want.

Jim Rohn

 

 

Featured image by Perfectionist Magazine

Focus by being mindful – Positive Vibes Series

“Mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and our experience.”Jon Kabat-Zinn

How can you focus on being mindful of the external activities around you while the busy buddies in your head are jumping on different time machines traveling from the past to the future and mostly making long stops at unpleasant stations along the way? At times, your head’s turmoil becomes worrisome that you need to ship magic bullets in the form of sugar cravings or any other substance abuse to quiet them. It is a challenge to be present and mindful, but it will be amazingly rewarding if meshed into our daily life. Remember when you were a child, delighted to look at an object with your eyes wide open without expecting anything from it. You were absorbed in the experience without any preconceived idea. Just a “beginner’s mind,” no clutter, no concept, no meaning, no assumptions, no color, or shape. You were just fascinated. As Psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion said, “being mindful is like taking photos; we learn to see without memory or desire.”

Stephane Barbery Photography

Precisely, a photograph captures a moment in time, and you will see things as they are, and mostly you see something that you usually ignore. This is to be mindful. You are being immersed in the experience without any distortion by your perceptions. By being mindful, you become receptive and see endless possibilities that exist within the world. As Monet said, “to see, we must forget the name of the thing we are looking at.”

Stephane Barbery Photography

Focusing to be mindful is to learn how not to rush and wait, which involves letting go. “Great understanding is broad and unhurried; little understanding is cramped and busy.” Chuang-Tzu

Stephane Barbery Photography

So how to focus on being mindful? Imagine you are a photographer exploring and embracing every opportunity. You want to seize the moment and see things around you. Don’t bother about the techniques, the light, or the subject; you adopt a “yes” attitude pushing away the blocking emotions. You just let go! You let go of expectations, perfectionism, comparing yourself to others, and be open! By letting go, you don’t rush into judgment. As in photography, you accept the scenery without labeling or categorizing.
With practice and dedication, you will find harmony between your concentration and being mindful. A process that allows you to be highly sensitive to your surroundings, interested, approachable, and open. Your field of view is expanded, and you become aware of something new. Something that you can zoom in, investigate, record it, and zoom out.

Featured image by STÉPHANE BARBERY