One of the pillars of mindfulness meditation is based on non-striving. An attitude that helps us disconnect our energy & emotions to the outcome of a task at hand or a pursuit. What it means is that the only thing worth striving for is to be in the moment. Like in a meditative state, you seek to stay calm and reach the highest point of being; the non-striving approach shifts your focus from the result to the action.
The idea is not to abandon your desires and goals in life. On the contrary, it is about you pushing that boulder up the hill and not looking at the peak of the mountain but have your eyes on the rock while using your energy to push it forward. Recognizing that you and your diligent efforts are good enough, no matter the outcome.
Nike’s slogan “Just do it!” is the perfect example of a mental state that has set a goal, is fully immersed in the performance, and is not controlled by the result. To give you a clear image of how to practice a non-striving attitude is to partner your goals to your intentions. Let’s say you have set a goal to complete a project at work by a particular time. Now, if you integrate your goal to expand your knowledge and nurture your team, then the stress will be reduced, challenges will be seen as opportunities, and the exchange of ideas and support will be welcomed. The reason is that intentions within you set the tone to move towards your goals and life in general. Once you are clear about your intentions, the focus on the course of action will drive you to do your best without anxiety or stressing over the unknown future.
Non-striving takes patience and a non-judging mindset. Every day choose an activity to loosen the grip to an outcome. For example, you go for a walk every day to lose 10 pounds. The goal is clear; now add the intention to enjoy the scenery and greet everyone you meet along the way. Pay close attention to your body and emotions when tension arises every time you think about your goal, and when you let go of the outcome. The exercise will cultivate the strength to detach and learn the non-doing attitude.
On the final note, the ability to stay focused is the driver to reach your goals. Never allow the feeling of worry or the uncertainty of an outcome derails you from materializing your dreams.
Developing an attitude to accept things as they are, makes life less complicated. Challenges and pains happen and how we shape our relationship with them is important. The process of healing or to find solutions starts with accepting reality. Indeed is not about tolerance or denial but the willingness to see things as they are. When you have pain, the feeling is real. You will not remain passive to the sensation, you feel it, and you do something about it.
We tend to abandon a distressing aspect of a situation and cling to nicer ones or withdraw from a tedious experience or look the other way to our conduct. This kind of attitude suggests that we refuse to see reality because we obviously do stumble upon dire circumstances or infuriating individuals. That being so, we cannot walk away or ignore every time there is an irritant. Acceptance is to acknowledge your emotions and not to avoid but to explore.
Changing the habit of non-acceptance
Let the sensations come and go
Do not take things personally
Acceptance is not choosing over your preference
Let go of control; not everything is what we imagine nor what we believe
Do not react to the unwanted situation
Take your focus away from what you agree or disagree
Recognize that flaws do exist in life, in people, and your doings and point of views
Detach yourself from distressing thought by not giving too much weight to it
Create a supportive slogan for yourself to accept things as they are in challenging moments
Ultimately, by allowing things to be as they are and staying neutral, you will learn to cultivate an acceptance attitude to reduce your anger, remain calm, and eventually find solutions. Remind yourself that the sensations that you feel are magnified. Just like in a horror movie, the knife is on the kitchen counter, but it does not mean that you will be stabbed with it. Being mindful is to know that you don’t have to solve everything nor to change it at once.
The present time is full of possibilities, so why can we not edit our thoughts to actually see the threads that can lead to a desirable experience? Almost always, the answer boils down to our inner struggles to keep things together! Every day, we are bombarded by stressful questions or circumstances, by the urgency of decision-making, or feeling anxious about the unknown future. We might have a master plan; however, we will encounter setbacks or disasters along the way. Often, the course of actions needs to be modified, adjusted, refined, or totally removed to be replaced by the new approach.
Appropriately, we all need supporting tools, strategies, and definitely a mindset that helps us manage stress, anxieties, and improve the quality of life and our wellbeing. Deep interrogation of our attitudes reveals how we see the world and what mindset determines our value system. In Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Stanford Professor Carol Dweck distinguishes between fixed and growth mindsets. Her research clearly shows the difference between the two extremes. The fixed mindset has no safety net for challenges and disappointments, and the growth mindset develops tolerance in the face of adversity and frustrations.
If there is a seedling of desire planted in your heart, despite a voice in your head sending signals “No, this cannot be done,….”, make no mistake you are suffering from a fixed mindset! It’s time to pay close attention to your thought patterns. The good news is that you can develop a growth mindset.
Invariably, we need to change our inner dialogue, identify our limiting beliefs, and cultivate a set of attitudes that will respond supportively and intelligently to uncertainties and setbacks. The amount of time we put into self-deprecating can be thrust into deliberate practice.
The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value.”
Consider the following steps to shape a growth mindset and strengthen your abilities:
Mindful self-knowledge – consciously start examining your attitudes and your intentions. Detach yourself from your self-made identity. Take a bird’s eye of your inner perception and your destructive & hindering thoughts. Notice the triggers. Replace them with the desired mental pictures, value learning, and efforts more than innate intelligence.
Apply strategies into your daily routine– to develop a new communication network in your brain. Include mindfulness techniques, such as meditation, as an integral part of your day-to-day life, strengthening your neural pathways’ connections. Erase negative self-talk, create positive core belief that you can improve your abilities, and learn new skills.
“The power of yet” – (Carol Dweck) replacing the “I am not good at this,…” with “I am not good at this, YET,..”
Try new things – It helps with self-compassion and understanding of others, especially in difficult or worrisome situations. A beginner’s mind is curious, resilient, and creative.
Keep in mind that knowing is not enough!You need to practice!
The more difficult the victory, the greater the happiness in winning.
Almost invariably, sports’ psychological skills can positively be translated into the business or personal world if adopted with conviction. In many common instances, such as being under pressure, challenged, receiving a reward, or being in a competition, top sports people’s mental skills can be applied as a driving force for professional or personal development.
It appears that the ability to perform exceptionally under pressure is a learned and acquired skill. (Hallett & Hoffman, 2014). A fair amount of learning techniques are available to apply; however, transferring those principles only works if a set of attitudes are cultivated. Top athletes have a rigorous daily routine to overcome physical challenges and to master their sport. Besides working on physical skills, they address their mental approach. In short, to cope with whatever we encounter and optimize our capabilities, here are seven strategies and techniques that will help us transform our performance to reach ideal results:
Stay focused. Your start does not determine how you’re going to finish.
The mental focus in sports is to sharpen on things that will contribute to completing your tasks. Whether it is ripping a dive to bending a soccer ball, all efforts aim to perfect the exercise productively. The same process applies to professional or self-growth. Focusing on thoughts and actions instrumental in reaching your goal fades unproductive worries and builds up confidence.
Be in the Zone
“The zone is a state of mind which is marked by a sense of calmness. In addition, there is a heightened sense of awareness and focus. Actions seem effortless and there is an increased belief that your dreams or goals can become achievable and real. In addition, there is also a sense of deep enjoyment when the person is in this unique, special and magical state of being.” –Dr. Jay Granat, Sports Psychologist
Training and preparation are not enough to find flow. Other techniques, such as meditation and conscious visualization, reinforce the efforts. How we apply these mechanisms is up to the individual’s inclinations. Some people tap into the past rewarding experience and re-energize the emotions they felt. End-results motivate others.
A good example is when Steve Jobs asked Larry Kenyon to cut Macintosh’s boot time by famously saying: “If it could save a person’s life, would you find a way to shave ten seconds off the boot time?” The time was cut down to 28 seconds! Consciously slipping into the unconscious to keep the flow allows you to stay in the zone and use your skills to the utmost.
How to use our feelings to become more resilient and build up our emotional Intelligence? Here are a few tips:
1- Identify your negative emotions – Once you are aware and have labeled your feelings, refrain from reacting immediately, and withdraw yourself from the situation. Do not make assumptions or decisions. Include empathy in your response.
2- Evaluate your behaviors and thoughts. Objectively – Question your intentions, motives, reactions, communications, whether you are rational or fair. Overall look into yourself from a bird’s eye view. Self-examination brings out humility, which is a requisite to build emotional Intelligence.
3- Communicate clearly – Conveying your thoughts with clarity and in a socially acceptable way is one of the components of Emotional Intelligence. Be an active listener, have an appropriate tone, mind your body language, eye contact, be respectful, and have a confident and friendly attitude, which are essential to reducing good communication errors.
4- Stress management – Introduce strategies to help you cope with stress and burnouts. The best ways to reduce the impact of stress and fatigue are to exercise, splash water on your face, go out in nature, learn and practice relaxation techniques, most importantly, be positive and confident.
5- Practice empathy – every day, try a random act of kindness, look at a situation from another perspective, make no judgment
A winner’s mentality has perseverance, builds on good habits, and takes action. It learns from criticism, and it does not allow situations and people to define the individual. A winning mindset sees challenges as an opportunity and focuses on things that it can control. It is grateful, looks for solutions, is curious, flexible, and optimistic.
Write down your skills and talents and scan through your knowledge-based, technical skills as well as your traits. Identify your core competencies and re-examine them by taking into account their relevancy, competitiveness, and application. Hone your skills and make use of them unapologetically.
Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it or work around it.
Self-encouragement is to believe that you can overcome challenges and focus on what you have accomplished. Therefore develop a system to boost up your self-confidence to face adversity and obstacles. Through affirmations to rewarding yourself, it puts an effective mechanism in place to build yourself up instead of tearing yourself down.
It is worth mentioning that we have a social responsibility for the benefit of society and our individual lives to engage, be useful, and lead a meaningful life. To fulfill this obligation, two of the fundamental elements that reinforce our state of mind’s wellness and enrich our experience and life for others are cultivating our strengths powered by optimism.
“When you have come to the edge of all the light you have and step into the darkness of the unknown, believe that one of the two will happen to you, either you’ll find something solid to stand on or you’ll be taught how to fly!”
The point is that there is always an opposite to a condition. Problems – solutions, adversity – opportunity, and the list goes on. Having a healthier outlook in life means transcending stagnation and despair. Fine, disappointments, intense adversaries, or distressing conditions happen, what can we do? We can contemplate for hours, days, or even years blaming situations, people, or even ourselves for being cut off at the knee, drowning in bitterness and resentment, or disassociate with negative feelings and shoulder responsibility to get out of the dark pit.
Like Dory in “Finding Nemo,” befittingly remarked, “When life gets you down, you know what you gotta do? Just keep swimming.” Agreed, so how do we embark on shifting our frame of mind and capitalize on our possibilities?
Revisit your goals or set up a new set of goals and purpose – Knowing that your path towards them will not be on a straight line, and you might need to reorient yourself at times, but eventually, the winding road will take you to your intended aspirations.
Change your inner monologue, make sure that they support your goals, make a positive argument against a negative thought that slithers into your mind. A good practice is to look into your mind as a detached observer to search for what sets you apart from your true potential. Slice your line of thinking and actions into parts. Which one of these parts is more aligned with your abilities, intellect, and motives? The part that regularly criticizes, argues, is judgmental or the part that listens, learns, and knows that life is full of challenges and is tainted with difficulties still it has the nobility to rise above with an admirable footprint. As humans, we are capable of thriving under stress and problems. Why? Because our core being is built to support our transcendence from the stage of apprehension to what we want to be. Hence, stop using half-hearted vocabulary. Your words matter; conscious use of positive talk will bring out your inner courage to pursue goals.
Recognize that as an intelligent being, you can identify your shortcomings and build on your strengths – the idea is to be better than you. You can transform and face undesirable insightfully. Just as you go to the gym to attain your physical fitness goals, the same mentality can support your positive outlook. You start a fitness program with the belief that with discipline, practice, and determination, the plan of action will realize your resolution.
You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it come true. You may have to work for it, however.
Work on having a problem-solving mind – rational thinking is about progress, well-being, and awareness that life has setbacks and difficulties; however, the knowledge gained through scientific findings, reason, and humanity will enhance our perspective to seek solutions and flourish.
Believe that progress is real. As humans, we have come a long way to improve our quality of life from life expectancy to human rights to increase leisure time, and the list goes on. Zoom in; personal growth is tangible. This belief is not fiction is a fact.
Keep in mind that stationary conditions to seek security while you have a fighter spirit will only lead to boredom and boredom in turn to spite and malice. To fight against the negative emotions, go forward in life, and fulfill the ethical duty to create a meaningful life and reach the best version of ourselves is the recommended motivation.
Nobody has a soul unscathed. As famously Nietzsche has stated:
“What does not kill you makes you stronger.”
Truth be told, it is not easy to be resilient in chaos or adversity; however, research has shown that it can be learned. Stretching our mental muscles and drawing on key questions raised by the great thinkers gives us a leg up to control our thoughts and surpass oneself through the spine-chilling maze of setbacks.
Mindfulness,martial arts, and behavior change are recommended; however, lasting success depends on self-reflection. Growth is fueled by practical wisdom and reasoned decision-making. So how to start the introspection to develop resilience?
Training the brain with philosophical counseling sessions to think clearly at infliction points in our ventures or life is absolutely necessary. The process of observing our minds and learning from different schools of thought empowers us to take charge and develop resilience in times of crisis. Like in a plane emergency, we curb the impulse to run for the door by knowing in advance the rules and follow the instructions responsibly. The guidance will shape our perceptions and expectations into awareness, and our behaviors will become more productive rather than reactionary. Ultimately, the self-examination and preparation lead to a disciplined mind that helps us leap over the fatigue caused by unprecedented events, discord, or even malicious situations.
Change Your Perception
“Choose not to be harmed, and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed and you haven’t been.”
Emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote the statement, the adherent of stoic philosophy highlights how perception plays an important role in your responses. A terrifying event has the potential to be agonizing or not, for it all depends on your perception. Therefore, you have a choice to experience the unfavorable circumstances in dismay or learn the skills to build resilience.
As humans, we can exaggerate stressors, fret, and run things over and over in our heads to the uncontrollable point. However, if you can adopt a positive outlook and reframe disastrous to challenging, you will be able to deal with calamities, learn, grow, and move on. A positive change in your perception is not to ignore and distort the reality but to ensure that you have control over your state of mind and emotional response.
Outline Your Expectations
Preparing your mind to question the underlying intentions of your expectations produce a valuable outcome in adversity. Since, the correlation between a challenge, an expectation, the course of action and the end result depend on your disposition. This means that unsettled and implicit intentions, an obscure plan of action or a goal will generate unrealistic expectations leading to resentment. However, the integration of philosophical notions to clarify your intentions influences your response and helps you confront the negative. Meditating on great philosophical ideas to become resilient and recover from adversity breeds self-control. This state of mind nurtures a rational, optimistic outlook to strategically analyze and gain attribution of productive motives from a third-party perspective.
The more aware of your intentions and your experiences you become, the more you will be able to connect the two, and the more you will be able to create the experiences of your life consciously. This is the development of mastery. It is the creation of authentic power.- Gary Zukav
Manage Your Behaviour
“Heroes are heroes because they are heroic in behaviour, not because they won or lost.” – Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Sometimes, the end results are unfair, unreasonably, or wrongfully against you; however, the philosophical reflection will help you develop mental toughness. Ethically responding in the heat of battle sounds virtuous, yet, might not be practical as it is easier said than done! Although you choose to change your attitude or consciously assimilate a behavior and internalize to deal with the problem. Effectively stated by Epictetus on Walking the Walk:
Don’t declare yourself a philosopher or talk about all your principles; walk the walk instead.
At dinner, don’t discourse on the proper way to eat. Just eat.
Here’s how Socrates did it: When someone asked Socrates to introduce him to a particular famous philosopher, he did it without thinking “I’m better.”
When the ignorant discuss deep matters, bite your tongue. Don’t vomit what you haven’t chewed.
When you are told you’re ignorant and you manage to be unruffled, you know your practice is working.
Everyone has a brand! The impressions, we leave behind, are combinations of how we have reflected our traits and presented ourselves. Done correctly, it serves as a compass for personal development, establishes credibility and is instrumental to our success. Personal branding starts with the ability to outline your skills, intellect, strengths and style. It gives you a clear focus using your best elements and what sets you apart. Once defined, you will be able to shape your brand voice.
The very first step is to pen down:
Who you are! You can use simple terms to define your attributes, such as:
cheerful, confident, culturally curious, witty,….
What is your mission another word your brand promise? An example would be:
“I have a positive outlook, I bring passion and creativity to my work and I am in my element when I help others,…
Define guidelines by thinking of what is your brand and what is not:
Bohemian not conventional; lighthearted not poker-faced; compassionate not indifferent,..
Write 5 words that best describe your core values & guiding principles. The essential qualities that you live by and they create value and connection. Such as:
Aspirational, spirited, caring, loyal, honest,…
The exercise gives you a solid foundation to create a coherent brand voice that holds together all your efforts and communication through any medium, to establish your brand.
Now, bringing the brand voice to life has a clear path. Your social media engagements, your style, your interactions are all guided by a set of references that articulates your personality.
Featured image: artwork by Metis Atash – Crystal Buddas Sculptures