I was taking a short walk yesterday and listening to music. And it hit me suddenly.
What a pleasant evening today is.
This is not the first time I've acknowledged a beautiful moment. These realizations hits me often. Whenever I see my mind racing through random chatter or worrying about any trivial issue of my life, I catch myself most of the time automatically.
I carried on with my walk for the rest of the time I was downstairs. Later I thought, the sense of not worrying is a beautiful thing and I should write about it.
The answer to the big question "Why do we think all the time?", has the most simple answer i.e. our mind is a chatterbox.
It just can't stop thinking. It's been designed to assess our surroundings, predict any future threat and prepare for survival. That's why most thoughts are worrisome. That's why we get very few happy or serendipitous thoughts.
Why we should understand our "chatterbox" behavior and break from it? The answer is again simple - to appreciate life. To enjoy what we want to do. And to enjoy it in that specific moment without worrying too much about past or future threats.
How can we be in the moment & enjoy?
I've been fortunate enough to have read a few self-help books early on in my career + have been surrounded by rational people who've helped me understand the basics of dealing with issues in life.
A few things that have helped me cultivate a bit of zen mode over the years are:
- Practicing meditation: There are many definitions of meditation. The most rational one for me is practicing mindfulness i.e. being aware of your surroundings and how your mind is reacting to them. Until you're aware of your surrounding and how your mind reacts to them, you can't act on them. Simple breathing practices help bring awareness to one's self. Practice breathing.
- Taking breaks often: An idle mind is the only place when something serendipitous will occur. A new idea for a project. A happy thought. A blissful memory. They all come when we're not busy running chores of everyday life. Hence I make it a point to leave my computer and just go sit in the balcony or lie down on the sofa and just do nothing.
If my mind wanders and goes to think about something happy, I go with it. If my mind wanders to the worry zone, I watch the though and try to be very mindful of it. The trick here is to give your brain some space and watch it from a distance. Think of it as you're sitting at the edge of a river bank and watching the river flow. You're not flowing with every splash but you're watching every splash and acknowledging how it's making you feel.
- Stop multi-tasking: This is very hard to do but when done frequently, yields results. I don't mean to say don't listen to music while working, but it means to try to do just one thing at a time. For example, I try to not eat and watch TV. I fail at it often, but I try to go back at it again.
Another example here is to give full attention to someone when conversing. I make it a point to not use my phone or do anything distracting when talking to someone, either on the phone or face to face. A uni-directional activity practices building focus.
- Go out for walks often: Lastly, stating the fact that started the idea of this post. I go out every evening and walk for about 20-30 minutes. Sometimes, I'll listen to music. Sometimes, I won't. But walking as an activity, especially with some sort of nature around (lawn, small trees, or a big forest) has been proven to calm our minds and allow our minds to go places which it'll never do.
I hope that if you're struggling to build focus, if you're wandering into dark troubling thoughts, or just simply feeling unrested mentally, the activities I mentioned above will help.
Let's focus on what's important. Let's be mindful of our thoughts. Let's give more importance to things that are important to us.
Let's take a minute.