Focus 2 – Attitude

Focus 2 – Attitude

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us”. Oliver Wendell Homes

A clever fellow named Jung defined attitude as “readiness of the psyche to act or react in a certain way” He goes on to say attitudes can be both conscious and sub-conscious. Another definition of attitude is “a settled way of thinking or feeling about something.” So when we refer to attitude we are referring to our disposition to think in certain ways. We can change our disposition – just like we can change our body.

Our attitude is the junction where our thoughts and feelings meet our actions. Thoughts are a kind of action and they lead to words and deeds. It’s like a connection between mind and body and is obviously vital if we are going to maintain our ride towards our goals.

Aligning our attitude with our goals means applying some philosophy. It is imperative that we control our attitude in a way that makes us happy and moves us towards who and where we want to be as a healthy fit person.

For a lot of people the idea of changing their attitude feels like they’re been told to change who they are. Science however now knows that changing your attitude is just like changing the shape of your body. A bad attitude is the mental equivalent of a fat, weak unhealthy body and can be even more difficult to change. Just as we can train our body we can train our mind.

In his fantastic book happiness by Mathieu Ricard he provides fantastic discussion and proof that the mind can be trained like the body – “Authentic happiness is not linked to an activity, it is a state of being, a profound emotional balance struck by a subtle understanding of how the mind functions.”

Ricard provides an excellent view point from both a Buddhist philosophical view and a modern scientific view both upholding this point.

My experience with myself and my clients has also led me to the same belief.

“We had a client called BOZO (I changed her name for confidentiality) who on her first meeting warned us that she has had a great trainer before so she knows all she has to do to lose weight is machine weights and she’s definitely not changing her eating because she knows she doesn’t have to get results…. (not sounding good it is it and we were wondering why she was coming to meet us if the previous trainer had done such a great job) Well it didn’t end well either – BOZO got to around the 10 week mark and we encouraged her to seek alternative help. Why was this… she was failing massively and we tried to get her to open up a little to new exercises and or nutrition change). Unfortunately I hadn’t written my book yet but BOZO had a very bad attitude!!! and some closed, unhelpful philosophy about eating, training and personal training.

 

Luckily we also get to meet people like DARBY (his real name) – a guy with a brain injury who started coming to our gym in a wheelchair with no hope of full recovery but turned up two to three times per week religiously – almost always happy and ready to offer a greeting and a joke with me (at his carers expense). Due to his memory loss it was always the same

joke three times a week for ten years but I loved seeing this guy because he had a great attitude! He was inspiring the way he approached his workouts and he could not even work hard due to his lack of co-ordination but he still tried very hard. And sure enough he got to the point where he could get out of the wheelchair and made an amazing recovery. Not complete but somehow I think Darby is going to have a better life than BOZO despite his brain injury and thanks to his attitude. He now speaks in schools to warn the kids of the dangers of not wearing a helmet whilst riding a motorbike and he still attends gym every week.

If you’re not impressed by Darby – maybe Andrea would inspire you – she’s a deaf and blind girl who is constantly asking her carers for heavier weights and more challenges and performs her exercises with more joy and passion than many people I see in the gym. I’m sure she would also be in the gym every single day if her carers had enough time to bring her.

Three very different people – two with physical disabilities and one with a philosophical and attitudinal disability. I held more hope for the people with physical disabilities to achieve their desired results than the able bodied person because of the attitudes I saw expressed.

Here are some attitudes that people used to think were normal and okay. The world is flat.

It’s good to have slaves.

Black and white people should be segregated . Women don’t need the right to vote.

My point here is most of those attitudes would not be accepted or held today because as individuals and as a society we have become more wise and open and fair. Individuals and society changed their attitudes and we live in a better world because of it.

Similarly there are aspects of your world that you can change and improve by changing your attitude.

Have you ever said to yourself or someone else – “I changed my mind”. Well congratulations. In that instance you changed your attitude about whatever it was. It can be done and it should be done on purpose to lead you towards the behaviours and results that you want in your life

“To change Behaviour, you need to change the attitude”.

Here are some great strategies to help you improve your attitude;

SEIZE THE DAY – Another Roman poet “Horace” gave us this wisdom – The original Latin phrase and lyric poet from around the year 65BC – 8BC. I tell you this not to show how well I can Google something but because this wisdom is ancient and yet more relevant today (in a world full of distractions) than perhaps when it was written.

From odes book 1:

Dum loquimur, fugerit invida

Aetas: carpe diem, quam minimum credula posteto Translates as:

Whilst we’re talking, envious time is fleeing; pluck the day, put no trust in the future

Seizing the day is usually associated with taking an opportunity today and not worrying about the future. It’s about taking your opportunities to improve. It’s about making the most of your moments. “Procrastination is the greatest thief of all time” and seizing the day is about insuring you don’t waste your time and effort’s by not taking action towards where you want to be. Health tomorrow requires action today. If tomorrow’s dreams are ever to be accomplished you have to act now.

In the beautiful poem by Juvenal at the start of this book he says “Deem the length of days the least of nature’s gifts”.

What this means to me is make the most of every second, minute and hour that you have. This means challenging yourself, trying, learning, failing, growing and enjoying the process. This means getting out of bed with a purpose. You need to find out what your passion is and pursue it. You need to be happy with what you have whilst you pursue what you want. You can only make the most of your opportunities if you are prepared to and that preparation is an ongoing process.

Some people take seize the day to mean enjoy this day with disregard for the future where as I would say enjoy present pleasures without risking future ones. Present and future pleasures include your dreams and will lead to longer lasting happiness than a momentary distraction that some people call happiness.

Every day is an opportunity to pursue your dreams but only if you make it so.

“When before the beauty of a sunset or a mountain we pause and exclaim aahh we are participating in divinity”

GET ON THE UPWARD SPIRAL

Unlike depression, which often sends us into a tailspin, positive emotions create an upward spiral “by building resilience and influencing the ways people cope with adversity.”Happiness – Mathieu Ricard.

Unfortunately I can’t remember where I read it but this is a strategy not a principal so I trust your intuition on this one. The idea is that establishing one-strong habit towards a goal – helps you to establish of a series of habits in alignment with that goal.

Stephen Covey also talks at length about the upward spiral. Covey says we have to learn, commit, do and repeat the process – moving ever forward.

I recommend that you start by making a strong habit of your exercise. Establish a strong exercise routine that helps you get on the upward spiral. I have seen this day after day in my clients and week after week over the years. When my clients are exercising regularly their other habits are more in alignment with their health and fitness goals and vice versa when they are not exercising regularly is when the other healthy habits fall by the wayside.

To get on the upward spiral establish a strong and consistent exercise routine. I recommend six or seven days a week if possible but remember every day does not have to be intense.

ENJOY EFFICACY

Having a positive attitude is about expecting the best for yourself and believing that you will actually achieve your best. A massive part of maintaining a positive attitude is maintaining self efficacy .

In motivation for coaches by Roy Sugarman he sites research published in the psychology of life style journal in 2009 stating “self efficacy is arguably the single most important factor in explaining positive changes in behaviour in physical activity”.

So what is self-efficacy?

Self-efficacy is the extent or strength of one’s belief in one’s own ability to complete tasks and reach goals.[1]

 

This can be seen as the ability to persist and a person’s ability to succeed with a task. As an example, self-efficacy directly relates to how long someone will stick to a workout regimen or a diet. High and low self-efficacy determines whether or not someone will choose to take on a challenging task or “write it off” as impossible.

 

Self-efficacy affects every area of human endeavour. By determining the beliefs a person holds regarding his or her power to affect situations, it strongly influences both the power a person actually has to face challenges competently and the choices a person is most likely to make. These effects are particularly apparent, and compelling, with regard to behaviours affecting health.

 

The best possible known way to increase a person’s self efficacy is to increase their experience of success and accomplishment. An easy way to do this is to break down large intimidating goes into small achievable goals that can be easily and often .accomplished. By doing this you will experience the feeling of success and also build belief that you can take the necessary steps required to achieve that next goals and the next goal and the next goal until finally the large goal is within your grasp.

Creating these kinds of situations teaches you that you can apply yourself, you can be disciplined and you can achieve your dreams and you should believe in yourself.

Unfortunately sometimes we have old scripts and a history of negative experience gets in the way of these positive steps. If you hear that voice in your head saying you can’t do it or even worse someone else’s voice in your head saying you can’t do it that is when you need to push on and push through to the next small goal and feel that next experience of success to build yourself efficacy and believe in yourself.

Focus points;

  1. Take baby steps – setting small aches able goals helps gain momentum and build belief
  2. Use positive affirmations to tell yourself you can achieve that next step
  3. Use previous experiences of success to remind yourself that you have what it takes to get to the next level
  4. Realize that this small next step and small next goal are related to every endeavour in your life that next kilogram or sticking to that promise has a big affect on your whole life – don’t you dare tell yourself that it’s not
  5. Be aware of what level your self belief is and work on improving it by applying these steps

 

Gratitude prayer

 

Try writing down five things in your life that you’re grateful for and say to yourself out loud “thank you for my health and fitness, thank you for my wife and child, thank you for my opportunities to help people, thank you for the great country that I live in, thank you for the great food that I have access to, thank you for the clean water that I have to drink,” You get the point – right? And are there many things in our lives we can be grateful for and if you struggle to find something try looking overseas at war torn and famine ridden countries or go to a cancer ward and visit the children. The fact is most of us do not have much to complain about and the process of being grateful for what we have encourages emotional positivity and helps us to stay on the positive spiral. This little prayer has nothing to do with religion (unless you want it to) it has to do with you appreciating what you’ve got to and helping you seek what you want. Practising this little ritual is a way you can fill your mind with positive thoughts and therefore keep at bay the negative thoughts. This is actually a common meditation practice but is also supported by modern science.

 

 

“one (strategy) seems to work best in re-centring an athlete, the Three Good Things ritual” (scientific view) Martin Seligman’s).

 

“The negative emotions are transitory mental events that can be obliterated by their opposites, the positive emotions, acting as antidotes.” Buddhist view.

 

REDIRECT SELF TALK

The inability to manage our thoughts proves to be the principal cause of suffering. Happiness

– Mathieu Ricard

 

This strategy is about actively trying to manage our thoughts and inner voice.

Try to catch yourself displaying a poor attitude (this means internal talk or external talk or action) and learn from it. Ideally – notice when you come up with a negative statement – write it down and replace that statement with a positive one.

 

Your self talk is essentially an expression of your attitudes and this becomes your behaviour and your reality.

Positive self-talk gives you strength and direction. Negative self talk is a form of abuse. Just as your self talk may sabotage your quest for a healthy body, it may also be used to help you achieve it. Most people let their minds lead them. Instead, you must lead your mind.

By capturing the bad – negative self talk – and replacing it with positive self talk this is a great way to take more control of your attitude and stay focused on things you want in your life rather than allowing negatives to stop you from getting where you want to be

Instead of…

 

“I can’t”… say “I will”

 

“I have to go the gym”… say “I choose to” “I can’t”… say “I can”

 

Learn to interrupt the negative voice in your head with a positive, empowering one. Stephen Covey and Buddhist philosophy discusses how it is only possible to hold one thought in our head at a time so make it a positive one.

 

MIND THE GAP

Minding the Gap is about stimulus and response. In the previous strategy – “redirect self talk” we talk about recognising when negative self talk appears and replacing it with positive self talk. This is a valid strategy however I believe there is a more effective one and that is this – mind the gap. Minding the Gap implies that you can stop the negative self talk from appearing. If you can learn to mind the gap you can stop yourself from responding like an animal -driven by emotion or programming and you can respond like the higher level enlightened human being that you are.

What sets us apart from the animals is our ability to make decisions based on our chosen values rather than just our genetic programming. “Between stimulus and response is our ability to choose our response” (Stephen Covey)

Exercising this strategy is about utilizing our ability to operate above our instincts and desires and do what we should do instead of following basic instincts (like Overeating and having sex with anything that moves). Controlling the gap is about not reacting to emotional situations (I’m angry) or hormonal drives (I’m hungry) but choosing our actions based on higher motives. In order to do this you must have higher motives and you need to catch yourself reacting when you could be acting better. Sometimes you might not be able to do it at the right moment (before your response) but it’s ok to make mistakes if you can learn from them. Try recording the stimulus that led to the mistake and write down or think about what you can do better next time to avoid the same mistake. It could be you need to avoid the stimulus all together or perhaps just taking a deep breath before responding would have given you time to choose your actions in alignment with your goals.

 

“Being able to repeatedly free oneself of such afflictive thoughts as they occur gradually erodes their very tendency to form again, until they stop appearing altogether.” Happiness – Mathieu Ricard.

Minding the gap is about the realisation that we can be proactive rather than reactive. It is about realising we have the power to choose our response before we respond. Minding the gap is perhaps the most empowering thing you can practice because it takes our decisions out of the hands of our history and places them in the dreams of our future.

 

MAKE LOVE

In the art of happiness by Matthew Ricard he writes the word love over 150 times. “Achieving durable happiness as a way of being is a skill. It requires sustained effort in training the mind and developing a set of human qualities, such as inner peace, mindfulness, and altruistic love.”

He talks about the “irreplaceable boon of altruistic love”, “happiness is above all a love of life.”

Love for Ricard and for the Buddhists does not just mean the love we give to our friends, family and partner. It means love for every being, altruistic love, compassionate love. It is the simplicity of a good heart and good intentions and is manifested when someone tries to live by doing no harm to other living things and more importantly by helping others.

So when I say make love it’s not as great as it sounds – I don’t mean have sex – I mean make love for yourself and for others.

The best way I can express this is by talking about the love I have for my little daughter – Anja. I thought I loved my wife more than anyone in the world but when I met my daughter I

 

found a new kind of love. This is a love with extra patience, extra warmth, extra understanding and unlimited lengths. She is in an opportunity to instil love in a new person and in the world.

Just like every other person in this world.

If we could treat everyone we met with the same love and kindness we reserve for our family and in particular for babies imagine how nice we would be to each other.

When I say make love I mean hold love in your heart and give it out freely. I’m sure it will come back often and help you maintain positivity in all areas of your life.

Here are some more tips on how he can make more love:

  • make love an action not just a feeling or words (hug, smile, help, do)
  • forgive quickly and completely
  • practice loving every day
  • give love even when you think it’s not deserved
  • give more than you get
  • meditate on love and ways to make it and show it

 

“It is well established that newborns and infants need a great deal of loving-kindness and affection to grow in an optimal way.” Happiness – Mathieu Ricard.

… Just like everyone else.

 

POSITIVELY ASSOCIATE

If you are saying things to yourself like I hate going to the gym, I don’t have the energy to go for a walk, and I don’t have time for exercise and healthy eating you are making negative associations with your health and fitness.

Alternatively if you choose to enjoy your efforts and enjoy making healthy choices and even enjoy some of the pains associated with exercise you are making positive associations.

This is in fact an ideal example to me of how you can create a positive or negative association with exercise in your reaction to the aches and pains of a workout. You can either view these as a common (occasional] by-product of a great workout or as a really negative thing in your life.

The more positive associations you make the more with you will build your ability to make more positive efforts towards greater health, fitness and lifestyle.

If people could ever believe such fundamental things like “the world is flat”, black and white people should be segregated, women don’t deserve the right to vote, enslaving humans is acceptable etc and then be able to turn around and realise these commonly held views are completely unacceptable then individuals should be able to change views on things like eating fruit and vegetables and choosing their attitude in regards to exercise.

The point here is you just need to recognise positive health and fitness steps in your life and appreciate them.

For example – I’m proud that I’ve walked two thousand steps today. I am grateful that I have an apple and salad to eat. I will try and enjoy my exercise rather than bitch about having to go to the gym.

Make positive associations in regards to any thoughts, efforts and plans you have in regards to building a better you.

 

ADDRESS THE PAST

At some time or another, we have all tried and failed at achieving a goal and improving our lifestyle.

If you are one of those people that “have tried everything to lose weight” then you especially better look at your history to see what you can learn.

 

Whatever obstacles stopped you from achieving your goals previously is likely going to stop you again unless you’ve learnt how to everyone them.

There are two broad categories that often prevent people from making change in their lives – firstly – self belief and secondly  life stressors.

Building Self belief is a tough one and is a strategy in its own Right but suffice it to say if you have a history of not believing in yourself then you need to implement a strategy that will help you build self belief.

This could mean applying. One of a few strategies with this book or it could even main seeking the services of a psychologist. The most important point however is that if you just push forward without dealing with a big issue like this you are likely setting yourself up for Failure.

It is also true that if you push forward without dealing with the life stressors that have usually gotten in your way you will likely also struggle. The good news is that many of these “life stressors” are usually just excuses and can be managed with counter excuses and better planning and positivity. Here is a good example list:

Excuse; I’m too tired

Counter argument; I’m tired because I’m not exercising Excuse: I don’t have time

Counter argument; I have to make time for exercise just like any other important appointment. I don’t have time to be sick and unhealthy. There at 168 hours in a week and we all waste enough of them that we could put to better use.

Excuse; I am injured or in pain

Counter argument; appropriate exercise will help injury recovery and decrease the likelihood of getting injured again. There might be some pain but appropriate exercise will relieve painful symptoms and decrease the likelihood that pain will return.

Excuse: I’m not in the mood.

Counter argument; there will often be times where you don’t feel like a work out, but that will rarely be times that you regret having done one. Sometimes you just have to get started and then you’ll be glad you did.

 

“Whether your obstacles are big or small, inside you or outside you, they need to be addressed and countered by sound strategies and positive thinking.”

 

VISUALIZE

Visualization is really another way of creating positive affirmations using mental images. We actually visualize all the time whenever we are creating a picture in our head of something when not directly looking at it. I want you to picture a pink elephant right now. Well done. You just completed a visualization exercise. It’s not hard and it can be a great strategy for helping you to clarify and achieve your goals.

This strategy is about creating a clear mental picture of how you want your health and fitness to be.

Take five minutes to sit in a quiet place and close your eyes and picture how you want to look with your clothes off, and in your new jeans and, in your swimsuit and you can also picture what will do to get there and how you will feel when you have the health and fitness and body you desire.

This can be a great idea before you do any goal setting or even as a regular mental exercise. Here are some great tips to help you with your visualisation;

  • visualize in first person – so imagine looking at yourself in the mirror not just viewing yourself as an outside person
  • practice often – practice makes perfect

 

  • use all of your senses – try to get as many of your senses [sought touch taste smell etc.] involved relax and enjoy it – make an amusing movie in your head or something

 

UNDERSTAND EMOTION

The best efforts of any person to achieve their goals will often fail or succeed based on a single unconscious bias from their history.

Roy Sugarman discusses this in emotional coaching for coaches and quotes “We have to evoke, not provoke change”

I think what Roy and this quote means is that we have to draw on the positive emotions from within you or from within the individual if we are ever going to create lasting change. No one else can give positive emotions to you , your helpers cannot give you positivity. You have to draw it out of yourself. You have to think back to moments in your life where you have been capable, happy, strong, and positive and draw on those historic experiences and moments to improve your future.

 

In Happiness by Mathis Ricard he states-

“Emotion is that which conditions the mind and prompts it to adopt a particular perspective, a certain way of seeing things”.

 

He goes on to define positive emotions as those which strengthen our inner Peace and seek the good of others whereas negative emotions are those which unsettle or disturb our mind or are intended to harm others.

Just stating what positive and negative emotions are shows how important it is to focus on fostering positive emotions.

Positive emotions allow us to become better human beings and to get more joy out of life. “It is just as legitimate to act against afflictive emotions as it is to treat disease.”

Take time Reflect on and manage your emotions. ENJOY SUFFERING

“Suffering may hurt, but it is not an evil.” Seneca

 

Even in cases of extreme suffering (like injury, illness or loss) people can often turn these situations into a benefit which made them a stronger person..

Assume however we are talking about ordinary little day to day sufferings we inflict upon ourselves. Sore muscles. A knee ache. A head ache. A feeling of hopelessness. Bad attitudes or self talk. These are all things we all “suffer” but we don’t have to be unhappy about them. Often they are lessons or they are just a part of a growth process.

 

“We incur suffering but we create unhappiness.” Happiness

 

Being able to enjoy suffering might be overstating it for some but it is not overstating it to say that suffering and unhappiness don’t need to be linked. In fact suffering can be linked to happiness if you choose. Especially some of these minor sufferances (aches etc) can easily be reframed and redirected.

 

I often fast twice per week for 16 hours. One of my favourite things about fasting is the mental strength and the mental exercise you get by doing it. At first it is hard and you notice the hunger pangs in your stomach and you would really love to eat something but if you’re able to reframe some of those physical messages your body is sending and recognize them as a simple result of something you have consciously chosen it actually becomes something I look forward to and really enjoy – hunger pangs and all.

 

In happiness by Mathieu Ricard he discusses The 4 truths of Buddhism as being: Recognize suffering,

Eliminate its source, End it

By practicing the path.

 

Let’s relate this to my experience of fasting:

Recognize suffering – I feel the hunger pangs. Sometimes I get tired sometimes I even get a little bit dizzy. I acknowledge all of this as part of the process.

Eliminate its source – since I have actually chosen this situation it’s very easy for me in this circumstance to eliminate the source of suffering which is the way I handle the situation. I choose to be grateful to be doing it and grateful for any of the side effects that Occur.

End it – In this way I really am able to end “suffering” throughout this situation and come out of it feeling experienced and healthy.

By practicing the path – I’m not a Buddhist though I would classify myself as a spiritual person that can relate to most religions. For me practicing the path in this circumstance really means being aware that I have chosen to put myself in the situation and therefore I should choose to be positive about the circumstances in which I am.

Here are some tips to enjoy suffering;

  • stand up to it – don’t run away, don’t hide face the suffering as a challenge to be absorbed not resisted
  • re-frame – realize that in most cases the pain is temporary and is not actually a part of Focus on what you can learn from the pain rather than the pain itself
  • accept your fate – whatever situation you are in (especially the ones you have put yourself in) just accept it – smell the roses, feel the pain and accept each as part of

 

MEDITATE ON ATTITUDE

“It is just as legitimate to act against afflictive emotions as it is to treat disease.” Happiness – Mathieu Ricard.

 

 

One of the key concepts in this book is healthy mind healthy body or vice Versa and yet how much time do we spend on training our minds? I think it’s fair to say in most cases we don’t spend enough.

 

“The negative emotions are transitory mental events that can be obliterated by their opposites, the positive emotions, acting as antidotes.” Happiness – Mathieu Ricard.

 

We all suffer from negative emotions and some of us more so than others and yet at any time we choose we can apply an antidote to them – theoretically. In reality it takes time to develop the emotional and mental strength to be able to replace negatives with positives. Whilst not easy – it really is that simple.

 

“A fundamental point emphasized by Buddhism is that two diametrically opposed mental processes cannot form simultaneously. We may fluctuate rapidly between love and hatred, but we cannot feel in the same instant of consciousness the desire to hurt someone and to do him good. The two impulses are as opposed to each other as water and fire. As the philosopher Alain has written: “One movement precludes the other; when you extend a

friendly hand, you cannot make a fist.”

 

Sorry for all of the quotes but I can’t possibly express this idea any better than Mathieu  Ricard and the Buddhist philosophy. We need to learn to replace negatives with positives and more importantly we need to practice doing this so that that when difficult situations arise we are able to.

Meditating specifically on attitude and on this concept is a great way to do this. EXERCISE Calming the mind and looking within Sit in a comfortable position. Your body remains in an erect but not tense posture with eyes gently open. For five minutes, breathe calmly, noticing the in-and-out flow of your breath. Experience the gradual calming of chaotic thoughts. When thoughts arise, neither attempt to block them nor let them multiply. Simply continue to watch your breath. Next, instead of paying attention to outer sights, sounds, and events, turn your “gaze” inward and “look” at the mind itself. “Looking” here

means observing your awareness itself, not the content of your thoughts. Let the mind gently come to rest, as a tired traveller finds a pleasant meadow in which to sit for a while. Then, with a deep feeling of appreciation, think of the value of human existence and of its extraordinary potential for flourishing. Be aware, too, that this precious life will not last forever and that it is essential to make the best possible use of it. Sincerely examine what counts most in life for you. What do you need to accomplish or discard in order to achieve authentic well-being and live a meaningful existence? When the factors that contribute to true happiness have become clear to you, imagine that they begin to bloom in your mind. Resolve to nurture them day after day. End your meditation by letting thoughts of pure kindness embrace all living beings. 10

 

BE PATIENT

“If we try resolutely over the course of years to master our thoughts as they come to us, to apply appropriate antidotes to negative emotions and to nourish positive ones, our efforts will undoubtedly yield results that would have seemed unattainable at first.”

 

When we stop someone on a new health and fitness program we do not expect them to turn their life upside down in the first week of their training.

Improving your health and fitness is a long-term process and thus requires patience. We encourage our clients to focus on what their next best change will be. What is the next skill they need to develop?

 

“Happiness is a skill, a manner of being, but skills must be learned. As the Persian proverb has it: “Patience turns the mulberry leaf into satin.””

 

These skills and new habits take time to learn and form and some will come easier than others. If we are patient we can overcome any obstacles that arise and make change we want to see in our life

 

“Patience safeguards our peace of mind in the face of adversity. . . . It is a deliberate response (as opposed to an unreasoned reaction) to the strong negative thoughts and emotions that tend to arise when we encounter harm.”5

 

Focus points for being patient:

  1. Take a long term view of your goals
  2. Take baby steps so you experience success
  3. If you can change your situation – change your attitude
  4. Remind yourself of the tortoise and the hare – slow and steady wins the race (trying to rush and do too much increases the likelihood of that you will drop out completely)

 

DEVELOP HAPPINESS

“Happiness does not come automatically. It is not a gift that good fortune bestows upon us and a reversal of fortune takes back. It depends on us alone. One does not become happy overnight, but with patient labour, day after day. Happiness is constructed, and that requires effort and time. In order to become happy, we have to learn how to change ourselves”. LUCA AND FRANCESCO CAVALLI-SFORZA The art of happy Mathieu Ricard

 

 

Making happiness is a lot like making better health and fitness. The two are closely linked. It does depend on us alone and requires patient labour day after day – thus requiring effort and time. The fact is most of us actually want better health and fitness because we think it will make us happy. So why not actually also work directly on developing happiness. Why not work directly on our mind, rather than a assuming our mind will become happier by creating some superficial circumstance.

Yet again I am probably quoting way too much but please read the below which states how this happiness can be attained.

 

Achieving durable happiness as a way of being is a skill. It requires sustained effort in training the mind and developing a set of human qualities, such as inner peace, mindfulness, and altruistic love

The fact is that without inner peace and wisdom, we have nothing we need to be happy. Happiness is a state of inner fulfilment, not the gratification of inexhaustible desires for outward things.

In brief, the goal of life is a deep state of well-being and wisdom at all moments, accompanied by love for every being. True happiness arises from the essential goodness that wholeheartedly desires everyone to find meaning in their lives. It is a love that is always available, without showiness or self-interest. The immutable simplicity of a good heart.

Seeking happiness outside ourselves is like waiting for sunshine in a cave facing north. TIBETAN SAYING

What strange hesitancy, fear, or apathy stops us from looking within ourselves, from trying to grasp the true essence of joy and sadness, desire and hatred? Fear of the unknown prevails, and the courage to explore that inner world fails at the frontier of our mind.

Marcus Aurelius wrote: “Look within; within is the fountain of all good.”2

If we try resolutely over the course of years to master our thoughts as they come to us, to apply appropriate antidotes to negative emotions and to nourish positive ones, our efforts will undoubtedly yield results that would have seemed unattainable at first.

 

Focus points to develop happiness:

  1. Make time to work on your mind
  2. Read happiness literature
  3. Explore your inner world with meditation
  4. Cultivate love and wisdom

 

  1. Be content with yourself
  2. Be humble and generous
  3. Seek and unfold deeper meaning for your life

 

DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY

Don’t take things personally – I found this piece of wisdom in one of my favourite books – “The four agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. He makes the fantastic point that when people are rude or negative towards you – you don’t need to accept that as a criticism of you – it is in fact that person’s weakness or problem and you are merely the recipient of their negativity. If you take that negativity on board – you let it affect you – however if you shield yourself from other peoples negativity with the awareness that it is their problem then it does not become yours.

Being able to do this is essential for you in maintaining a positive outlook towards your life. Focus points for not taking things personally:

  1. Realize negativity is like poison – you don’t have to swallow it
  2. Personal comments aren’t always personal – if someone doesn’t believe in you maybe it’s because they don’t believe in
  3. Train your mind – negativity and irrational emotion usually comes from people who do not train their
  4. Outlook positively – what I mean by this is maintain a positive outlook in your life by being a self improver. Set yourself some meaningful goals and work on them by yourself without needing anyone’s influence. It is great to have positive influences but you don’t need them if you are in control of your

 

 

MAKE IT PERSONAL

Please don’t compare yourself to others – This book is about being a better version of you. It’s not about being perfect. It’s about trying to improve yourself for the benefit of yourself and those around you. Comparing yourself to others has nothing to do with this process. Sure – stick Arnold Schwarzenegger or Elle Macpherson on your wall for inspiration but when it comes time to measure progress compare your results to you. Gradually bettering yourself is all any of us can do.

A great way to make your goals more personal is to attach your values to your goals. Try to move away from the purely aesthetic reasons for your goals like looking better and try to attach your values around feeling better and being a better person for your partner, friends and family.

Another great way to make your goals more personal than just a number like losing 5 kg is to make them a promise to yourself or a promise to a person you love. The idea being that we are more likely to keep promises to someone important to us than just numeric goals on a scale.

“I will improve my fitness and energy so that I can be more positive and playful for my children” is far more motivating than I will lose 3 kg.

Focus on making it personal:

  1. Compare yourself to you
  2. Don’t aim for perfection – just improvement
  3. Keep in mind this is “self improvement” not completion
  4. Make promises not goals
  5. Attach your values to your goals MIND YOUR MANNERS

 

This may sound a little bit childish but displaying good manners is another good way to display positivity in your attitude. Saying “thanks” and “please” shows gratitude and appreciation but also shows consideration of others.

Focus points:

  1. Make it a promise to say please and thank you sincerely in every personal interaction you have
  2. Make it a goal to say please and thank you when you’re talking to yourself – using your inner voice (it’s best not to talk to yourself out loud when other people are �)

MAKE CHOICES

This strategy is about having the awareness and will to make pro active choices rather than reactive ones.

The great Stephen Covey in the seven habits of highly effective people talks about how there are always two creations first the mental one and then the physical one. That first mental creation is where we need to make your choices.

Exercising your power to choose your philosophy, attitudes, actions, results and lifestyle is one of the keys to building better health and happiness.

Far too often we are reactionary when we could be action oriented.

Having this awareness helps us plan for situations where we often make mistakes. For example if you make it to lunchtime and realize you have no food and you are in a Takeaway food establishment you are far more likely to make a bad choice than if you had already thought through this process and made a conscious choice that despite being there (surrounded by unhealthy food options] you will order a salad (or at least salad sandwich).

This strategy is partly about being proactive, partly about minding the gap between stimulus and response and partly about maintaining our awareness that we have the power to choose. Just like your most important goals you need to think about what are some of your most important choices in your life and how you can improve them.

Focus points:

  1. Make conscious choices in your life by weighing up your thoughts and actions against your values and beliefs and
  2. Plan for difficult situations where you sometimes make bad choices and make good choices ahead of being in that situation
  3. Remind yourself that you always have the power to choose your philosophy attitude results actions and lifestyle

 

MAKE FRIENDS

The strategy is about maintaining positive relationships with yourself and those around you. In many situations by improving yourself you can help others improve themselves and the relationship between both of you

Sometimes however it is necessary to discontinue or minimize relationships with certain people that aren’t positive for you.

Making friends is about making a conscious choice about who you want to be around and who you will be around those people.

If your relationships are leading you towards where you want to be then fantastic – however if They are not then perhaps you need to change the amount of time you’re spending with some people and find other people who are on a track similar to yours

Focus points:

  1. Reflect on who are the most positive and negative people in your life and resolve to spend more time with the positive
  2. Work on being a positive person yourself for people who are around you

 

  1. If you want to have a friend – be a
  2. Try to have at least some friends who have some goals or interests similar to you that uplift you towards your goals
  3. Don’t be tempted to try and change other people. The best way to change the world is to change yourself

 

CONCLUSION

Once you believe in the power of the mind, you can control your destiny. Being aware of your own beliefs, attitudes and thoughts will bring light to your behaviour. Try to stay positive with your internal communications. You can practice this every day whilst communicating with yourself and others. Approach everything and everyone with an open mind and willingness to learn and you will improve. Like any other tool, these strategies will not help if not applied consistently. Invest the time and energy into your mind, and the results with your body will soon follow.

 

“It is by transforming our minds that we can transform our world.

There are no remedies other than personal awareness, inner transformation, and perseverance.” Happiness – Mathieu Ricard

 

 

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