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Be Happy Be Healthy Self-Help

How to Avoid Stress and Anxiety? By Being Hopeful, Grateful and Mindful.

Happy New Year to all my readers and followers! The only new year resolution I made this year is to avoid stress and anxiety. But how? I found the answer to this question in a beautiful quote from a good friend, Seung-Ah Kim who is a stroryteller from South Korea.

Looking forward makes me hopeful. Looking back makes me grateful. Being present makes me peaceful.

Seung Ah- Kim

In just one sentence Seung-Ah managed to capture what life is all about, which is quite a ‘tour de force’. For my first blog article of 2022, I thought that it would be a good idea to develop this a little bit and share with my readers some thoughts on how to avoid stress and anxiety by being hopeful, grateful and mindful.

Avoid stress and anxiety by looking forward and by being hopeful about the future

How to avoid stress and anxiety. Photo featuring Joanne and Alize Reed in Plateau Kerval Reunion Island. This is truthfully the most beautiful place I have been to. It was kind of surreal, a mix of Jurassic Park and enchanted forest; and it was definitely worth the long arduous trek and difficult weather conditions to get there.

Everyone hopes for something. We are living in an age of despair, fractured communities where we are being forced to alienate ourselves from our family, friends, colleagues, and clients. The world currently is filled with fear, stress, and sadness, and it can become second nature to develop a negative worldview and a feeling of hopelessness. There seems to be more pain than we can heal, more dissent than we can mediate, and more uncertainty than we can comprehend.

In times like this, what can we do to comfort ourselves, and the people around us? We can call upon Hope to step into our life. Hope is a powerful antidote to feelings of despair and desolation. Hope acts as the light in the midst of darkness and will bring you renewed optimism and vitality. Hope doesn’t mean that life has to be all rainbows and butterflies, it doesn’t mean that you are always happy and that you can’t feel emotions like hurt, sadness, or anger, but it does mean that your view of your circumstances and those of the world around you go beyond what it is actually happening.

Hope is the place you want to go when you find yourself sitting in a dark place. Hope is the name of the person you want to know where all the people around you are spreading fear and misery. Hope is the seed that is buried deep inside you that you want to sprinkle around like magic fairy dust. Hope is the feeling that carries you through, no matter what.

Joanne Reed

Avoid stress and anxiety by being grateful for your past experiences

How to avoid stress and anxiety. Photo taken by Alize Reed featuring Joanne and Sarah in PLateau Kerval Reunion Island. This is truthfully the most beautiful place I have been to. It was kind of surreal, a mix of Jurassic Park and enchanted forest; and it was definitely worth the long arduous trek and difficult weather conditions to get there.

Looking back at your past experiences, every one of us would be able to highlight some beautiful and happy memories, but also some bad experiences as well. We have all heard the saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”; with this, in mind, we should remember that life is a mishmash of good, bad, and sometimes ugly experiences.

Don’t you ever regret knowing someone in your life. Good people give you happiness. Bad people will give you experience, while the worst people will give you a lesson, and the best people will give memories.

Unknown author

Talking about negative experiences in our life leads me to also talk about the concept of acceptance or to let things be. Misery is not just an absence of pleasure, but it is also caused by unmet expectations and aspirations, and by a continuous need for approval in our personal and professional lives. These disappointments, some big and some small cause some people a lot of stress and anxiety and may result in depression or other mental illnesses. Psychologists and therapists believe that a lot of this struggle and stress can be avoided if we practice the art of acceptance.

A standard acceptance definition in psychology is a person’s assent to the reality of a situation, recognizing a process or condition (often a negative or uncomfortable situation) without attempting to change or protest it. Acceptance does not equate to approval, which is more about a good opinion of someone (or something) but is more a subtle feeling that connotes there is something in the situation less than appealing, but for various reasons, we tolerate its imperfections.

It is a well-accepted concept that practicing gratitude, whether it’s internalized or externalized, can have a number of positive psychological effects. Multiple studies found that people who express gratitude experience overall better well-being and higher levels of positivity whether they started out with mental issues or not.

It’s a funny thing about life, once you begin to take note of the things you are grateful for, you begin to lose sight of the things that you lack.

Germany Kent

When we recall happy memories, we are often nostalgic, and remind ourselves how things used to be. When we recall less happy events, there is a tendency to hold on to those unhappy memories too. Accepting the reality of our situation allows us to move forward and gives us more energy to focus on the present moment to feel grateful for the people and things we have now.

Avoid stress and anxiety by being present and mindful.

How to avoid stress and anxiety. Photo featuring Joanne Reed in PLateau Kerval Reunion Island. This is truthfully the most beautiful place I have been to. It was kind of surreal, a mix of Jurassic Park and enchanted forest; and it was definitely worth the long arduous trek and difficult weather conditions to get there.

I am sure you have all heard the saying “don’t let the future steal your present”. Although we all know the saying, a lot of us don’t put this into practice, but we should because it could save us from depression and anxiety. Psychologists often say that depression lives in the past; anxiety lives in the future and calmness and peace of mind live in the present.

The trend these days is to learn to be more mindful, which inherently means learning and practicing to be more present in the moment. Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not be engrossed in obsessive thoughts about something that just happened or fretting about the future. So if you don’t want to be depressed or anxious, practice mindfulness.

You can practice mindfulness anytime, anywhere, and with anyone by being fully engaged in the here and now. Many people go about their daily lives with their minds wandering from the actual activity they are participating in, to other thoughts, desires, fears, or wishes; but it has been said that “a wandering mind is an unhappy mind”.

I would like to encourage all my readers and followers to look forward and be hopeful. Be grateful for all the things and events in your life (happy or less happy ones) that made you the person you are today. And whatever you do practice mindfulness so that you can be peaceful too.

And this my dear friend is your Quest.

Personal Note

DDI Chat – Personal Growth – One-to-one Chat with Joanne Reed

In addition to publishing my articles on my website, I have also been publishing on Medium. I have been working closely for the past months with Data-Driven Investor (DDI) Publication.  DDI has recently launched a new marketplace/platform where people can book a paid one-to-one session with an expert of their choice.  DDI asked me to join their panel of advisors/experts in the Leadership, Coaching, and Personal Growth category.  Here is my profile. If you wish to book a one-to-one chat with me you can do so on this platform.

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com

Categories
Self-Help

What is Your Superpower? Multitasking or Mindfulness?

Distracted Multitasker or Mindful Zen Master

An indisputable fact about modern life is how busy everyone seems to be. There are always more incoming emails, more meetings, more things to read, more ideas to follow up on. Digital mobile technology means you can easily crank through a few more to-do list items at home, or on holiday, or at the gym. In addition, social media often seems to center-stage; we are under a relentless and continuous assault from Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, text messages, videos, advertising, news, etc. It’s impossible to manage this without a superpower, but what is your superpower?

Multitasking seems to be the order of the day, but as a result, our attention span lasts only for a few seconds before boredom sets in and we feel the urge to move on to the next great thing seeking our attention.

What is your Superpower? Multitasking or Mindfulness?

The ironic consequence of being busy is that we are actually less efficient, get less done, make poorer decisions, prioritize trivial tasks over important ones and end feel overwhelmed. We’re human beings with finite energy and abilities but under seemingly infinite bombardment from work and from social media which intrudes into our family and leisure time.

Is mindfulness a solution?

(I was inspired to write this watching my daughter doing her homework, complaining she was bored and seeing her check her social messages not less than once every minute. No sooner had I pointed this out she noted I was guilty of the same; ‘Medice, cura te ipsum,’ Physician, heal thy self.’)

What is Multitasking?

Multitasking was originally used as a computing term to describe concurrent execution of tasks in a computer’s Central Processing Unit (CPU) and main memory. Multitasking allowed a user to perform more than one computer task at a time but doesn’t necessarily mean that tasks are carried out in parallel. The operating system is able to multitask by keeping track of where you are in these tasks and switching from one to the other without losing information.

Multitasking as a term wasn’t applied to people until the 1990s. Human multitasking is also the ability to perform more than one task at the same time, for example taking a phone call while driving a car. The normal way that humans multitask, however, is more similar to the way that computers used to, by switching tasks rather than carrying them out at the same time.

There has been a lot written about multitasking in recent years and a lot of concepts mixed up so for this article I have tried to clarify my definitions below, and ask if it is our true nature to multitask?

Real Multitasking

Our brains have limited capacity and struggle to really multitask unless one or more of those tasks are ‘second nature,’ i.e. that it is so well learned that no thought is necessary to perform it. Examples would include walking and chewing on a chewing gum, driving a car and listening to an audiobook.

Task Switching

When most of us say that we are multitasking, it may appear that we are multitasking, but in reality – like computer multitasking – we are actually just switching from one task to another in rapid succession. As much as you might like to think that you write an email and talk on the phone at the same time, however, in reality you can’t and are actually taking more time and being less efficient than if you did both tasks separately.

Mindless Timewasting

Some of the things we do, our guilty pleasures – that are really easy to slip into when we are bored, are not tasks, but mindless timewasting. Posting a story to your personal Instagram account, OK – that’s arguably a task, but checking your feed 30 or 40 times an hour, playing games, posting a bunch of likes on Facebook – well that’s more likely to be mindless time-wasting – no multitasking points there.

What is Your Superpower? Wasting Time?

Myths of Multitasking

Multitasking is a widespread modern phenomenon, however there is considerable evidence for its negative impact on personal health, productivity, effectiveness and even to reduced levels of compassion. Multiple studies have confirmed that multitasking is a myth and anyone who believes that multitasking increases their productivity and efficiency are mistaken. Data shows clearly that multitaskers are doing less, getting more stressed out and performing worse than those perform single tasks at a time.

So is there an alternative?

Concentration & Mindfulness

Martin Luther, 15th-century professor of theology, composer, priest, and monk, and first translator of the Bible into the vernacular (and not to be confused with Martin Luther King) famously said: “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.

This sounds counter-intuitive, but like many other counter-intuitive practices, e.g. ‘slow and steady wins the race,’ has a strong basis in truth. The ability to focus on a subject, to concentrate deeply, to understand its nuances and interweaving complexities and its simplicities allows our minds to maximize the absorption of information.

When we concentrate, we are bringing to bear upon an activity the full focus of our minds, and this is essential if we are to learn anything. It is also very calming to concentrate, to block out all outside noises and distractions.

The advantage of concentration is that it brings us into an intimacy with what we are doing, and in that intimacy, there is learning and pleasure. It is one of the ways the mind is intended to work, and this type of concentration is called mindfulness.

What is Your Superpower – Mindfulness?

Rather than just concentration, mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. If life is feeling too busy and hectic, if you aren’t connected to or interested by what you are doing, it may be the time to slow down and practice mindfulness.

There are many definitions of mindfulness that provide further insight into what mindfulness is, my personal favorites is:

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment and in a non-judgmental way

In addition to concentration, mindfulness also incorporates aspects of non-judgement, compassion, spirituality, curiosity, acceptance and kindness. Non-Judgment is a large part of Buddhist philosophy. There is no good and evil in Buddhism. Human problems are talked about in terms of ignorance and wisdom – the cause of the sufferings in the world is ignorance and the solution is the development of wisdom.

The History of Mindfulness

Mindfulness practices are often taught secularly, but their roots stretch back to the early teachings of the Buddha and other eastern religions.

“The secret of health for mind and body is not to mourn for
the past or worry about the future, but to live in the
present moment wisely and earnestly.”
Buddha

Mindfulness was made mainstream in the east via religious and spiritual institutions such as Buddhism and Hinduism, while in the west, its popularity can be traced to particular individuals such as Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn whose system is based on a type of Buddhist meditation called Vipassana.

Buddhist monks believe that the reason a lot of people are anxious, stressed or in pain is that they are stuck on something that happened in the past or worried about something in the future. Buddhist monks learn how to practice mindfulness to help free themselves from anxiety, stress and suffering. Buddhists believe that your focus and attention should be on the present as the present is the only time we can learn, do, or feel anything. The present is the only time where we can heal and grow.

How Mindfulness Relates to Meditation?

Mindfulness is the awareness of ‘some-thing,’ whereas meditation is the awareness of ‘no-thing.’ Both meditation and mindfulness help quieten the mind but the main difference between the two is that the goal of mindfulness is to have one’s thoughts be on the present moment, whereas for (transcendental) meditation, the goal is to transcend thought itself and experience a state of ‘pure awareness.’

Mindfulness of the Body; Practicing Stillness and Meditation

Meditation is also a practice that trains the mind not to stop thinking but to surpass our own thought process. Through meditation, one’s thoughts should flow like a river. If you have time to meditate, do it; if you don’t have time to meditate, meditate for 5 minutes. Acknowledge your thoughts, know what they are, but do not engage in them. Let the thoughts be, do not attach ‘good or bad’ labels to them.

How to Practice Mindfulness

So, what is your superpower? There is a raft of scientific evidence to confirm that concentrating on what we are doing, or mindfulness is the superpower we should be aiming for. Mindfulness has a lot of benefits and can replace multitasking, if not all of the time, then at least some of it.

  • Mindfulness can help us get more done, can relieve the stress of feeling busy;
  • Mindfulness can help bring us into an intimacy with what we are doing, and in that intimacy, there is learning and pleasure;
  • Mindfulness can help cope with depression, stress, boast your psychological well-being, manage physical pain and improve your memory;
  • Mindfulness helps us switch to a more positive mindset which in turn helps us feeling happier;
  • Psychological evidence suggests that mindfulness can foster greater relationship satisfaction by increasing our ability to deal with stress when conflicts arise;
  • Mindfulness can help us become more emotionally aware and appreciative of the little things.
  • Mindfulness helps improve the way we communicate and relate to those around us. It also helps get us off the auto-pilot mode where a lot of us operate days after days, weeks after weeks, months after months and years after years;
  • Mindfulness can help us regulate and express our emotions in a way which is more thoughtful, non-judgmental and more compassionately with ourselves;
  • Practicing mindfulness helps build our resilience.

Being mindful can have a lot of benefits, not just to you but also the people around you.  One last benefit is expressed in this simple quotation from French Philosopher Simone Veil (3 February 1909 – 24 August 1943):

“Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.”

Your mission, should you accept it, is to practice sharing the fullness of your being, your best self, your enthusiasm, vitality, spirit, and above all your presence with your friends, family, with people around you. That is the greatest gift of all.

And this my dear friend is your Quest!


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For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Nobles (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com.