Monthly Archives: January 2017

5 Skill Sets For Developing Mindfulness

Becoming the poster boy of mindfulness is not a matter of deciding to be one tonight and waking up tomorrow as one.

Developing mindfulness as a habit in life takes time and practice.

The good thing with practicing a skill set is that the more often and the longer sessions you put yourself through, you can only get better. It is almost impossible to get worse.

With this in mind, here are some critical skills to master on your road to becoming a mindful master.

Being in the present

The mind works in mysterious ways. And it don’t just go about what it does all the time. It also works late into overtime.

It is no wonder that nine and a half out of ten random people will not be able to focus exclusively on one object for as little as a minute.

In fact, while you were having a 10-minute conversation with a friend earlier today at work, he was probably spending 90% of that time thinking about something else.

Being present is a very difficult skill to cultivate, let alone to master.

The best way to make it a habit is to change your philosophy of how you see life.

You see… a very big reason why we allow our minds to drift off all the time is because we see life made up of the past, present and future.

And the past is something that we often access from our memory bank. While we tend to fantasize about the future. The present is what we neglect most of the time.

If you embody the saying “The past is gone, the future hasn’t happen yet, and we only have the present”, then this belief within you will automatically make you give more attention to the present.

Look at it this way.

Have you ever regret something you did or did not do in the past? Well if you had the presence of mind at that moment in time (in the past) to put more thought into what to do (as you are now), maybe you would need to feel regret over it now.

The same can be said about the future.

Live in the present.

Breathing exercise

Have you noticed that when we sleep at night, our eyes, ears and mouth goes into hibernation? And the only organ on our face that is doing the night shift is the nose?

No. Actually it does 24-hour shifts. Everyday!

This alone is reason enough to magnify the impact that breathing exercises, or proper breathing, can have on our well-being.

You can learn more about this in our writeup on breathing techniques. Or read the following for a shorter version.

  1. Find a quiet spot where nobody would disturb you
  2. Get comfortable on a chair or sofa
  3. Pay attention to your breathing
  4. Start taking deeper breaths and count from 1 to 10
  5. Keep your attention on your breathing

This is a simple exercise that not only aides your breathing, but also your focus and awareness as well.

You might be floored at how you are unable to keep your mind solely on your breathing and begin to wander off to fantasy island.

That’s fine.

Keep practicing and you will slowly develop the skill of directing your attention.

Become a meticulous freak at home

Start noticing everything about anything you do. And I mean EVERYTHING!

When you have you morning coffee, take notice of the details on the cup, the bubbles on the top, the texture of the sugar cubes you used, etc.

Do this with everything and anything you do.

You are not exactly training to be a spy for the CIA. But you are training yourself to be more PRESENT. More AWARE.

The best practice is to activate all your senses. This means to hear, small, feel, taste, and see.

The more in-tune you are with your senses, the better your ability to understand your surroundings. This would make you one hell of a mindfulness freak.

Learn to let go

The saying that “There is always time to worry tomorrow. So why do it now?” might sound like a phrase out of a kindergarten teacher. But it makes total sense in the world of adults too.

The primary reason why people feel stressed out over little things that really don’t matter is because they are not able to let go.

I’ve just got off the phone with a girlfriend who still cannot forget this guy she was dating for a while. She acknowledges that this is not a special guy who she loved deeply. But she is feeling stressed out because she is unable to let go!

Learning to detach oneself from thoughts and feelings is a life journey. So much so that we often only associate this skill with the elders.

But this is not true.

Everyone and anyone will be able to detach their feelings and thoughts as long as the DECIDE to do so.

  • Identify what you want to detach yourself from
  • Acknowledge the presence of it
  • Accept that it is a problem which you want to solve
  • Tell yourself that you can distance yourself from that unhealthy attachment
  • DECIDE to detach

If you are able to nail down the skill of detachment, you are definitely one-up on most of the people around you. Even your high school crush might suddenly find you attractive.

Control attention

This is a key skill. It was mentioned briefly earlier. But it’s importance is worth re-visiting.

A famous study was conducted decades ago that is still referenced in many areas of self-development.

This study was about getting a individuals to notice items in front of them that is of a specific color. Then the subjects are requested to close their eyes… and name the objects in front of them of a different specific color.

None of them could name all items of the other color. This is even though those items were right in front of them for observation when their eyes were open.

This tells us about the power of attention.

Imagine putting your attention on positive stuff and blocking out all the stressors that are having constant Christmas parties in your head. That’s what should be at least on of the goals you have written down in your black book.

So start practicing the skills required for controlling your attention and attention span, to cultivate mindfulness, so as to conquer your stress and anxiety.

How To Motivate And Force Yourself To Clear Clutter

Few people prefer to live in a mess. Even those who actually live in a mess would choose organization over clutter if no effort is required on their part.

If you watched the movie Limitless starring Bradley Cooper, you might have noticed that one of the first things he did when under the spell of the “superman pill” was to… clear the clutter in his house and organize everything neatly in place.

In our minds, it would be nice to have the house spick and span at all times. The problems is the effort required and the time needed to do it consistently.

Well everything starts with the first step.

Here are some ways to motivate and force yourself to start packing up and make the home a great conducive place to do anything you want in.

1) Clock it into your schedule

When you insert tasks to be done in your personal calendar, there is a much higher chance that you will do it.

It is something like how successful people tend to attain their goals when they write them down on a piece of paper. The world works in strange ways.

Pull out your calendar. Or use the one you refer to everyday on your smart phone. Then pick a “free” day and slot in your clutter clearing appointment at home.

Since you have already identified this day as a free day, or a couple of free hours, why not make good use of it?

I found myself starting to really pack on those guilt-ridden pounds in 2016. And I realized that I’m spending a lot of time on the computer at home even when I’m not working on work-related stuff. So I decided to use an hour of these idle time usually doing useless stuff for exercise. EVERYDAY.

Now I’m proud to be getting into shape.

You can use the same strategy to rationalize with your mind to do something productive with your personal time… like clearing that clutter!

2) Put yourself on the spot

A concept of motivation in regular exercise and getting fit is the idea of accountability.

This basically means that if you get an exercise partner or buddy to join you on your workouts, this social dynamic alone can be a powerful motivator to be consistent in training.

This is because your buddy is holding you accountable.

The same concept can be applied into clutter management 😀

Invite friends and relatives to a house party in a week. Get as many people as you like to attend it. It would be ideal if there are people whose opinion of you matters… like your boss, your in-laws, or even the neighbors.

As the date draws closer, you would start to feel the urge to pack up the place so that they don’t perceive you as a pig living under breeding-farm conditions.

Putting yourself on the spot this way can easily force yourself to take action and pull out the vacuum cleaner that has been left untouched for years.

3) Draw up a 3-pronged attack plan

Alright. Taking on the whole house can be a daunting task for anyone. And this HUGE challenge can be enough for you to surrender to the God of clutter.

A good idea is to segment the WHOLE task into smaller tasks.

Make it a 3-stage decluttering project. Two still looks daunting. And 4 just seems too much. A 3-pronged plan just sounds like such a sweet spot.

How you decide to segment the whole project into 3 stages depends on you. Here are some suggestions.

  • Segment by rooms
  • Segment by directions
  • Segment from the most clutterest to the least
  • etc

Once you identify the 3 stages, you can even go back to point #1 and schedule it into 3 appointments.

4) Jump in

There a lot of wisdom that went into the profound phrase of “Jumping into the deep end of the pool”.

Sometimes you just need to jump in to get your engine started. And once that is achieved, everything just comes naturally.

For example, let me go back to talking about exercise. I know how tiring it can get with all the workouts. Yet I know that if I can just drag my butt into the gym for weight training or to the park for calisthenics, I would be going at it like a machine.

Sometimes all you need is to put the key into ignition. And you will get going once the engine starts.

5) Convince yourself why you need to declutter

If you can nail this down, a neat looking house is already on it’s way.

The very reason why we are willing to live under such conditions is because we can accept it and the drawbacks don’t really outweigh the benefits in our minds.

If we can somehow convince ourselves that the benefits of decluttering overwhelmingly outweighs the pitfalls of clutter, motivation would come from within.

Here are some thoughts to consider:

  • Do you really want you next girlfriend to see you living in such a slump?
  • Does it really not bother you even a tiny bit to see all the mess?
  • Wouldn’t you like to know exactly where some of your stuff is and never misplace them again?
  • Do you want your home to be a theme park for pest?

I rest my case.

A key point that you must remember when kickstarting your decluterring journey, is not to fall victim to the negative thoughts of discouragement. The whole process could take days. So do not expect instant gratification in your undertaking.