1. Sharing - Explore Your Meaning and Purpose
Epicurus said, “There are few better remedies for anxiety than thought. In writing a problem down or airing it in conversation we let its essential aspects emerge. And by knowing its character, we remove, if not the problem itself, then its secondary, aggravating characteristics: confusion, displacement, surprise.”
- Find a friend in your life that you are comfortable talking to and practice a daily sharing of the things you did that day or the feelings you had that day, anything at all that was meaningful for you.
- You can do this in person, over the phone or even via email or letters. Whilst in person is better for more direct speaking and listening all are good mediums for getting the amazing benefits of sharing.
- The more you get comfortable with sharing the more meaning you will find in your day-to-day activities.
Sometimes it is natural for us to judge, when someone speaks we can tend to have ideas about them and we put things into a category with labels, but these judgements can dominate our minds making it difficult for us to find any peace. Jon Kabat – Zinn writes "We are constantly generating judgements about our experience almost everything we see is labelled and categorised by the mind. We react to everything we experience in terms of what we think its value is to us. This habit of categorising and judging our experience locks us into mechanical reactions that we are not even aware of that often have no objective bases at all." When we can share it becomes a monumental shift that allows us to delve deeper into our feelings and emotions and can be the beginning of getting to know ourselves and the start of finding that contentedness in ourselves.
We grow up in a society where sharing and being open and honest can be seen as a weakness. Sharing is a great strength, a strength that is powerful in freeing us from the shackles that can tie us down. For some reason when you say things out loud to someone else it makes it more difficult to lie to yourself, we plant the seeds to slowly and surely become a softer and more compassionate human being. By sharing and by creating an extremely open pathway of communication it paves the way for stronger and more trusting relationships.
Bertrand Russell said, “Fear is the principal reason why men are so unwilling to admit facts and so anxious to wrap themselves round in a warm garment of myth. Those who deceive themselves generally know at bottom that they are doing so, and live in a state of apprehension lest some untoward event should force unwelcome realizations upon them.” When you hear your own voice speaking out loud and planting words into the stratosphere forever, for all to hear, it is like a pressure valve releasing, in this way sharing is group therapy. Genuine honesty and sharing takes courage and it is this authentic honesty that makes all the difference in transforming our suffering into our true happiness.
2. Gratitude - Bring More Meaning To Every Moment
We can get in the habit of churning through the days without ever giving things any real thought. We get stuck in a routine of monotony and forget all the amazing things we have every single day that we are grateful for. We get so caught up in our own routines that we forget our family, friends, interests, loves, passions and all the simple things that make life so great. Sometimes we just need a little reminder to boost our energy, our positivity and our meaning so we can live deeply and more fulfilled in each and every moment.
- Keep a meaning/gratitude journal and each night before bed write down 5 things that happened in your day that had a deep sense of meaning for you and write why you are grateful for those things.
- This practice is powerful and you may find that you have more and more meaningful things in your life as you write.
3. Working Meditation - Bring Meaning and Enjoyment To Your Work
The whole idea of working meditation is to teach people to be present and alive when working, to not let our minds wander off into something else and to bring enjoyment back to our work. Far too often when we are working our minds are off in the future or stuck in the past. We rush through one task robotic-like, never actually in the moment, doing it in the hope that the thing that follows will be better. Then the cycle just continues without you knowing it. It becomes a well ingrained habit that every time you do something it is merely just to get to the next thing, all along the way never actually really doing anything, or in the least definitely not enjoying it.
This is the case when it comes to work; we race through the eight hour day with our mind elsewhere neglecting the benefits we could garner in that moment, whether it is a good conversation or the learning of a new tool. This is what working meditation is all about, learning to just be present doing something even if it isn’t the most pleasant thing. Because in life there are times when we have no choice but to complete unpleasant tasks, but they need to be done, so wouldn’t it be better to learn to actually get something positive from it?
When we can find enjoyment in work and the other things that need to be done it is a beautiful thing. Creating this enjoyment and presence in what we do can give us greater fulfilment, it might not be because our work is any more ideal but because we are now able to come to terms with what we are actually doing in that moment, without wishing we are somewhere else. This connects us back to the present moment, the only place where meaning can exist and thrive.
- Just like you would with any form of meditation, a body scan, walking meditation, yoga or sitting meditation, just be aware of your wandering mind and use your breath as an anchor to connect and re-connect your body and mind. Thich Nhat Hanh says the “Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.”
It is paramount that we develop the tools necessary to allow ourselves to better manage our thoughts and feelings, because we all have times when we are overwhelmed at work and feel under great pressure. If our minds are constantly wandering not only do we lose touch with reality but we lose energy fighting the constant bombardment of noise, this leads to negativity and a killing of our zest, passion, drive and positivity. By learning how to calm our mind and our bodies we find a tool that we can use through any storm or crisis, this can help restore perspective so we make decisions that are closer to are true self and not out of confusion and dispersion. Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Mindfulness is the miracle which can call back in a flash our dispersed mind and restore it to wholeness so that we can live each minute of life.”
4. Do A Good Deed - Bring Meaning to The Simple Things
By simply getting in the habit of doing one good deed a day we bring greater meaning, purpose and value to our lives. These simple actions can do wonders to our sense of community, improve our empathy and do wonders for us as individuals.
- A good deed doesn't have to be an elaborate or time consuming plan, it can be something as simple as picking up a piece of rubbish and throwing it in the bin.
- It can be giving up your seat on a packed bus or train
- Helping a stranger with something
- Stopping and answering a question instead of rushing past
- No matter what it is just do one good deed this week and see what happens.
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