Updated: Nov 30, 2021
© Copyright 2020 Artwork by Cordi Neckermann
The one thing I constantly remind myself every single day is to take life, day by day, and one step at a time. It has become nearly impossible to plan. We are all in the same boat, facing the same challenge of how to navigate the gushing tide that is now considered the new normal.
I want to share with you how I stay sane in these unprecedented, unpredictable, and uncertain times. I use these simple steps to keep myself in a more positive and happier frame of mind.
I hope they will be helpful to you as well.
So, here we go.
It would be safe to say that we are all used to a pretty fast-paced, instant gratification, and information-overload lifestyle. However, this way of life that was normal for many of us is not much of help at the moment. Things have changed and changed drastically. I discovered that focusing on slowing down, appreciating what we already have, and being conscious and careful of what information we consume is crucial to staying grounded.
The Incredible Value Of Your Attention
Our attention is one of the most valuable things we have to offer. Ask any advertiser or marketing professional, and they will concur with this fact. They want your attention and are well aware of how valuable it is. More on this here
The online as well as the offline world is drenched with bits and pieces of information that is supposed to grab our attention, entice us to get involved, or try to create a desire that we are unaware of. It is up to us and only us to decide who and what we give our attention to.
In this medley, it is easy to forget that we are the ones who are actually in charge of directing our attention. It is way too easy to be swept away in the information overload, both online and offline. But it is not only the things outside of ourselves that we can be selective with. We can also consciously choose the thoughts we pay attention to, and this is where the magic happens. This is where our Super Powers kick in.
Our focus can be consciously directed from the not so helpful thoughts to the motivating and inspiring ones. Learn more here
How It Works
The first and by far the most important step is to realise that your thoughts are spinning out of control, or that you feel overwhelmed with a situation. Personally, I hold up a big flashing mental “stop sign” for myself when I start feeling overwhelmed by my thoughts.
Slowing Down Our Racing Thoughts
While driving a car, we usually hit the brakes to slow down and ease off the gas pedal to reduce the speed. But with humans, it is a little more complicated than just a foot pedal. We need a lot more time and practice to slow down our racing thoughts. However, when we do manage to slow ourselves down it benefits our physical health as well as our mental health. More here
To add to that there has never been a better time to make ‘slowing down’ a part of your daily routine. It doesn’t take an hour of yoga and chanting every day to make an impact. Just starting small can effectively do the trick. It is much easier to break a small chunk out of the day.
Always remember that your well being is of utmost importance. You can’t be there to comfort your loved ones if you are not taken care of in the first place. You have to double up as your support system and cheerleader when it comes to keeping yourself happy and healthy. After all, it is You who knows yourself best. Therefore, spending at least 10 minutes a day to keep yourself sane is only a small investment towards a stronger immune system and having more energy throughout the day. More here
Where Are The Breaks?
The decelerator for us humans is our breath. Just focusing on our intake and exhalation for even a little while can stop our mind from racing away. The magic lies in being able to observe our thoughts for what they are, just thoughts in our head, and let them pass through our system. Believe me, the really important ones will always come back to you.
From Instant Gratification Mode To Long Term Appreciation
Quote from Daniell Leviti’s book The Organised Mind:
“Recent research in social psychology has shown that happy people are not people who have more; rather, they are people who are happy with what they already have.”
That’s a hard one to admit I find, but it is true. I’m hooked on instant gratification, or as you would term it, problem-solving. We have everything at our fingertips, and ready to go. Instant downloads, instant food, instant messaging, and the list of “instant” goes on. Just about everything comes to us by merely the push of a button. Therefore, it is no surprise that we are loaded with high expectations, and frustrated when they are not met in our system of “instant joy”. There will never be any space for appreciation and gratitude when we are in a constant state of expectation. It’s a simple equation - when there is a high degree of expectation there is bound to be an equal level of disappointment.
We can get rid of this attitude by:
Paying attention to what we REALLY want
Examine what we think we need
Reminding ourselves of the things we already have in our lives that we can be grateful for
We can actively steer our attention towards a state of appreciation. Often the things we appreciate the most are not part of the physical world and can’t be ordered via amazon anyway ;-)
Our mind can only focus on one thought at a time, so why not make it a good one.
Cutting Off The Flow of Information Overload
Quote from Daniell Leviti’s book The Organised Mind:
“It’s as though our brains are configured to make a certain number of decisions per day and once we reach that limit, we can’t make any more, regardless of how important they are. One of the most useful findings in recent neuroscience could be summed up as: The decision-making network in our brain doesn’t prioritise.”
We are flooded with way too much information every single day, and if we don’t apply a good filter to it, feeling overwhelmed is inevitable. I sometimes feel like I’m being rendered powerless by this overstimulation. The media in general is not the real devil if we happen to choose wisely. It is entirely up to us to figure out what we pay attention to and what we consider just noise. It is all in our power. The human mind is by nature curious, and if we guide this curiosity towards the things we love and enjoy rather than empty sensationalism, I think we can spare ourselves a lot of anxiety and fear. Instead, we can stay calm and in control.
There is the news and then there is “The News”. No matter if it’s in written form or on TV, the headlines are written and designed to grab our attention, but not necessarily to educate and inform us. They are cooked up to get as many eyeballs as possible to raise the number of clicks, views, likes or shares, and rake up a reader or viewer number. They are all scrambling for your attention and it is YOU who is in the position to choose.
WE hold the power to let ourselves be filled with fear or anxiety from a news report or choose to take in the facts and decide for ourselves how we want to feel about a certain event.
We all live different types of lives, and in some cases, it is more helpful to keep the focus on ourselves and our immediate surroundings rather than venturing out into the drama of the world. Thereby adding their weight on top of our own. On some days this certainly holds for me. Choosing consciously what you want to add to your attention list can make a huge difference to the overall quality of your life. Making sure that you don’t feel overwhelmed by what information you allow in is like a protective shield. More here
Slow Down, Pay Attention, and Choose Wisely
We can’t control what is going on around us but we can choose how we want to feel:
Choose what matters
The simple act of paying attention and embracing our power of choice is a kind of human superpower in my opinion. It’s an internal process that can allow us to walk away from any situation with a lesson learned. Knowing how we feel about things and choosing consciously how we want to feel is the best starting point to create a happier and healthier lifestyle.
We all have dreams and making the right choices every single day to move towards them, no matter how small the steps are, is a big win we can be proud of and happy about.
Let the Good Vibes in!
If you happen to discover that dancing is something that lifts your spirits and you enjoy shaking a leg with some like-minded people, then pop on over to the booking section and book yourself in for some good dancing fun.
I would love to be part of your routine to create a happy and healthy lifestyle.
Your first class is on me :-)