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Why Mindfulness is NOT (Just) Meditation

Mindfulness is seeing yourself in the moment for who you are and tracking areas you’d like to improve. It’s focusing on the present and letting go of the things that don’t serve you. Mindfulness allows us to get more done, accomplish more goals, and live a more healthy life.

The Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy at Maharishi University has reported that “Leading medical experts estimate that 90% of disease is caused or complicated by stress.

That is an astounding number. Stress is an epidemic in our country. In a study conducted by the American Psychological Association, 77% of respondents reported “regularly experiencing physical symptoms caused by stress” and 73% “psychological symptoms.”

Are you one of the three-fourths that are plagued with regular stress, overwhelm, exhaustion, burnout or extreme frustration?

I am. Sometimes it feels like an uphill battle that can never be won, but I promise- you do have tools at your disposal. One of my favorites is: Mindfulness.

Now before you start thinking of yoga poses and breathing techniques, let me stop you. Those things CAN be a PART of mindfulness, but it’s not the entire concept. Mindful living is so much more than that!

WHAT IS MINDFULNESS ANYWAY?

I love the definition given at mindful.org: “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.”

Does that definition say anything about yoga or meditation? It certainly doesn’t!

Mindfulness is an ability that everyone already possesses. It’s a state of mind. It’s something you can do anywhere, anytime. You can develop and evaluate your mindfulness in different ways (which is what I like to teach about here at V&B), but it’s not a “skill” that only some possess.

Put most simply, mindFULness is really just the opposite of mindLESSness. Having a mind FULL of things that will make you a better person and lead you to a more satisfying life, instead of allowing yourself to make “mindLESS” choices on a whim.

I like to think of it as awareness. Being aware of the things around you so you can act accordingly. Paying attention to the moment at hand. Being intentional with your time, your actions and your thoughts.

It’s about making specific choices based on positive life goals, instead of letting life control your path.

It’s about constantly working toward those goals, while still being kind to your spirit and giving yourself lots of grace. It’s about loving yourself for who you are, but knowing your great potential and pushing yourself to be better. It’s about recognizing the positives you have to offer, but knowing you can be So Much More!

Focus on the Present

We have a tendency to focus on things that occurred in the past and anticipating too strongly the things that might happen. Though joyful memories and excitement for what is to come can be great things, allowing them to take the majority of our mindspace is detrimental to our progress.

Instead, it is far more healthy to focus on the things of the present. Mindfulness is paying attention to what’s happening right now: your actions, your thoughts, your environment. It’s not letting your mind get carried away with thoughts of the past or worries from the present. It’s letting go of anything that doesn’t serve your current goals and refocusing your mind if you get off track. It keeps you grounded in the here and now.

Mindfulness is Internal

Mindfulness focuses on the inner self, rather than the outer.

Being mindful allows us to see into our spirits- to the place that nobody else gets to see. It helps us to dig deep into our soul and pull out the aspects of ourselves that really define us. It’s letting go of how the world sees you, and allowing you to see yourself for who you really are. Your true self.

Being mindful has been huge in my development of self-confidence and self-esteem. It helps me to see that it doesn’t matter what people think if I know the real truth.

Mindfulness is freeing. It’s letting go of what doesn’t serve you and allowing yourself to focus on what does.

Benefits of Being Mindfulness

Mindfulness is not just a “fad” or “new-age trend.”

Incorporating mindfulness into your life has many tangible health benefits, including:

  • Decreased stress and increased capacity to work through life’s challenges
  • Increased clarity, attention, and brain function
  • Lowered anxiety and depression
  • Improved general well-being

Mindful.org explains: “When we’re mindful, we reduce stress, enhance performance, gain insight and awareness through observing our own mind, and increase our attention to other’s well-being.”

It’s so easy to get caught up in the struggles and trials of our everyday lives and miss the wonderfully good things that happen around us. Constant pessimism is like poison to our spirits, but stopping to see the positives can provide us with much needed positive energy, which can be incredibly uplifting.

The beauty of true mindfulness is in the huge impact it brings to our spirits. Being fully aware of your mind and your surroundings can help you to see the good within life’s challenges.

It doesn’t erase the difficulties of life; it simply allows us to work through them calmly and realistically, instead of with fear and negativity. It turns them into opportunities for growth and progression, rather than tragedies and misfortunes.

This is quite a different view of mindfulness than merely relying on meditation and yoga, am I right?

Mindfulness is a Choice

“But how can I just ignore all the bad things in my life?”

You can’t. And doing so wouldn’t be healthy anyway. Those negatives influence who you are. They are a part of your past, but they don’t have to define you.

You get to decide what you focus on. You get to choose what you let matter. It’s your choice where you put your energies.

How do I Practice Mindfulness?

Let me be clear: “being mindful” and “practicing mindfulness” aren’t entirely the same.

While, as stated above, you can be mindful anytime, anywhere, “practicing” mindfulness is an intentional action that you must set aside time for.

It can look different for everyone, but for me, I find that spending time each day (usually at night) physically tracking my mindset is very beneficial. This is the procedure I facilitate at Vibrance & Bliss.

In a specific place in my planner I track things like:

  • my moods
  • gratitude
  • water intake (and other health concerns)
  • goals & progress: daily, weekly etc…
  • intentional routines & schedule
  • choosing the right tasks
  • small (or large!) daily wins, improvements, achievements & successes
  • memories
  • positive choices
  • future goals & improvements
  • daily evaluation

It Can Be A Challenge

So I think at this point we agree that being mindful has its benefits, and we have a basic outline of what it entails and how to put it into practice. But does that mean it’s easy?

Hardly!

Living mindfully can be a very difficult thing to do.

Yes, it is relatively simple in theory, but living mindfully requires you to address some things in your life that may be uncomfortable or upsetting.

Though it’s easier to ignore the challenges we face, it is much healthier to deal with and work through them. That’s where mindfulness can help. It takes you out of the negative headspace and helps you see what positives you can draw from the experience.

How do I stay motivated?

So how do you keep on track if you’re feeling the pressure and challenge of mindfully evaluating your day each night?

Just like any new habit or routine, it will take practice and consistency. Do it every night if possible. If you miss a day, no big deal. Just pick up again and keep going.

But always, ALWAYS be kind to yourself. That’s really the most important part. I like to think of it as “giving myself grace.” Don’t beat yourself up over a missed day or two. You’ll zap away all your motivation to keep trying.

Instead, cut yourself some slack. Don’t give up. Realize that perfection will not ever be possible.

Try changing your routine. Perhaps see if a mindfulness app can help your motivation levels. Whatever you can do to improve your consistency, the better you’ll be. If you can see you’re making progress, you’re more likely to stick to your budding routine.

How Positivity Influences Productivity

So why does all this matter? How does being “mindful” help me to get more done?

Have you ever sat down to complete a task and find yourself flooded by memories of a past negative experience? Or maybe you start to worry about an upcoming deadline you’re not sure you’ll hit?

If you’re anything like me, these thoughts probably continue running through your mind and keep you from completing the task, and twenty minutes later you’re feeling frustrated and defeated and your task is at the exact same place you left it.

Sound familiar? Trust me, I’ve been there.

The human mind loves to wander. We are easily distracted, and have a habit of allowing our minds to run over the place. This is mindlessness. You may be thinking of something, but it is certainly not what is going to further your present goals.

This is where mindfulness really shines! Constant and intentional consideration of your desired goals helps keep you on track as your mind naturally wanders.

Mindfulness IS productivity! It is the driving force that helps you get things done!

It allows you to step away from the negative thoughts that destroy your motivation and focus, and into a peaceful place where you feel positive and energized.

We are so focused on accomplishing our goals and tending to our to-dos, taking the time to contemplate life’s intangibles doesn’t always seem practical. But recognizing the boon to productivity that mindfulness provides tells us it’s well worth the “sacrifice.”

Quick Review

What Mindfulness IS:

  • Staying in the moment
  • Recognizing yourself for who you are, but not being content to staying there
  • Addressing the negatives but choosing to focus on the positives
  • Tracking areas of desired improvement

What it’s NOT:

  • Breathing exercises
  • Yoga poses
  • Ignoring what’s going on around us
  • Obsessing about the past or worrying about the future

HOW DO I DO IT?

Daily tracking the aspects of your life you’d like to see more positive results in: your gratitude, moods, health, energy, goals, routines or

HOW IS MINDFULNESS DIFFERENT FROM MEDITATION?

Whereas meditation is something you DO, mindfulness is a state of mind- an awareness that your life is made up of more than the events in your life. Being mindful is a constant choice, and though meditation can be a great avenue to improve your mental health, it does not define mindfulness.

Why does all this matter? What’s the point?

Mindfulness:

  • Increases your focus
  • Improves motivation
  • Stimulates work ethic

Simply put, mindfulness allows us to get more done, accomplish more goals, and live a more healthy life. And who doesn’t want that?    

NEXT STEPS:

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  3. Join the Discussion: What does mindfulness mean to you? Leave a comment below!

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Mindfulness is seeing yourself in the moment for who you are and tracking areas you’d like to improve. It’s focusing on the present and letting go of the things that don’t serve you. Mindfulness allows us to get more done, accomplish more goals, and live a more healthy life.

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Life’s Golden Ticket – Review

Book Review for "Life's Golden Ticket" by Brendon Burchard. Fabulous story about forgiveness, self-empowerment and reinvention. Post includes a free printable and an offer for a downloadable workbook to guide your reading.

I’ve been following Brendon for a good while now, but this is the book that started it for me. I saw a Facebook ad for his book, immediately ordered it, and let it sit on my shelf for a couple of years. I don’t know why exactly- life got in the way? Other priorities taking precedent? In any case, with my new resolve to read more great books, I knew I wanted this book at the top of my list.

I’m so glad I ordered and dove into this book! Brendon has such a passion for helping people. I see it in every course of his I take, every workshop and training. He truly gets fired up every time he speaks about building a positive life. If you haven’t signed up for his updates, you won’t be disappointed.

“Life’s Golden Ticket” is an allegory about a man trying to come to terms with his past, forgive and be forgiven, and make a fresh start. I don’t want to give away any of the story, but here are some of the lessons I pulled from the book. (There are many!)

1. Society’s Lie

Do not fall prey to, or let go of what Brendon calls “Society’s Lie.” As the main character is told on pages 34-36:

“You have been lured into a lie that has controlled your mind and contaminated your life, a lie that has prevented you from being your best, from taking risks, from having the confidence and strength needed to seize the life that you’ve always wanted. It has mesmerized you into believing that you are not good enough and that there is something wrong with you. It has made you secretly feel inadequate, ugly, weak, slow, small, useless, and helpless for far too long. It has been neutralizing your innate desire to stand up for yourself and become the person you were destined to be.”

I absolutely love this passage. Does this sound at all familiar to you? Are you guilty of allowing this horrible lie seep into your thoughts and cause you do doubt your potential? I know I am. Self-doubt is a mean monster, and it doesn’t fight fair. I love how vividly Brendon expresses the damage it does to our spirit, as well as providing us with something way more powerful than this vile lie. (I’m not going to tell you what it is- you have to read the book!) It’s something we’re all able to obtain, and it’s super effective in overpowering “society’s lie.”

In this section of the book, Brendon also gives three steps to defeating the self-doubt. Simple things that although aren’t always easy, are incredibly helpful in putting you on the path to the great things you’re capable of.

Purchase the Book

2. Elephant’s Leash

In the story, an analogy is drawn between us and one of the most massive creatures on earth: an elephant. It is explained how from a very young age, elephants are tied by rope to a pole. They struggle, at first, to get free. But soon they come to terms with the fact that they’re just too weak to break the rope. They stop struggling. They give in. As they grow stronger, they never question that rope again. Even as adults, they never stop to realize they have the potential to snap that rope in two with almost no effort. They have resigned themselves to their fate: no question. No trial. No reward.

How many of us are like that? Resigned to our “fate” of accomplishing little, because someone told us we couldn’t? Or because we tried once and failed. Why do we give up? Why do we stop trying?

It is truly a beautiful story, and Brendon’s rendition is so powerfully worded you really should read it first-hand. (If you own or buy the book, it’s on p. 82-84)

3. Positive VS. Negative

This seems to be a major theme running throughout the book. It’s discussed several ways in different places, in different ways. This is something I’ve personally struggled with: keeping a positive outlook. As one character in the book says to another:

“We’re drowning here. In despair, in our own pools of pessimism.” (p.6)

And aren’t we? Isn’t there so much negative around us? On the news? In our communities? In the media?

But wait- that kind of thinking is exactly the kind of negative focus Brendon warns us again in Golden Ticket. Because really, though yes, there is a lot of bad, there is also a lot of good! It’s all around us! But do we focus on that? I, personally, struggle with that quite often. It’s easy to see the bad and blame it for all our troubles. But how often do we express gratitude for the good that also surrounds us?

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4. Miracle Makers

I loved this section so much. I can’t express to you how strongly this section of the book touched me.

“Many of us live our lives desperately seeking to draw attention to ourselves. We live our lives to be noticed, accepted, and adored. We live our lives as if we were in the center ring [of a circus], as if the world should sit around applauding our every move. But there are a small number of people in this world who live their lives to make others smile, to remind others of the magic and hope in the world, to help them discover the possibilities that live within them. Whenever people like this end up in the spotlight, they use their moment to help others through the dark.” (p. 178)

Doesn’t that just give you goosebumps? It did for me! Brendon goes on to call these people “Miracle Makers”, because they make miracles happen for those around them. He explains that these select few have dedicated their lives to making life better for the people they associate with. How beautiful is that?

While reading this section, you can’t help but ask yourself: What am I adding to the world around me? Am I only “taking” from the world? Or what is my contribution? Can I give more? How can I add to the lives of the people in my life?

Powerful stuff right there…

Purchase the Book

5. Don’t Settle: Progress

Or as I like to say: “Be who you want to be.”

Another overarching theme of the book, rather than a single section. This is a topic that is mentioned frequently. I counted over fifteen times in the book (all separate, but related, examples, thoughts, or ideas) that this topic was addressed. It seems this was something Brendon really wanted to hit home for us.

One of my favorites:

“Don’t you dare settle for anything other than the life you want to live. Look at your life. Look at every area. See what you need to stop doing and what you need to start, and do it while you still can, no matter how hard it is. Just keep learning and living.” (p.29)

When you look in the mirror, are you satisfied with who you are? What would you like to improve? In what areas would you like to see yourself progress?

There’s a huge difference between self-confidence and no desire for progression. I believe that the purpose of life is to learn, grow and progress. So isn’t there always something we can strive to be better in?

Don’t settle for a mediocre life because you’re afraid to put the work in to improve your life.

“You can be whoever you want to be, and you can do whatever you want to do. It’s time to believe [that] again.” (p.29)

If you could become whoever you wanted, who would that be? What does the “perfect” version of yourself look like? What steps can you take to get there?

Verdict & Next Steps

This book is five-stars for me, hands down. It was a fabulous read. It is pretty short, and only took me a couple days to get through. You can read it story-style (read it like a novel) or pen-in hand ready to make notes and mark your favorite passages. I started with the former, but decided there were far too many fabulous tidbits to miss, so I ended up grabbing my highlighter anyway.

So what now? I’d highly recommend purchasing the book and reading through it if you haven’t already. While you’re waiting for your copy to arrive, be sure to download the free printable: “Top 10 Favorite Quotes” from the book. There are so many more great things in the book I didn’t even address here!

Bonus Time!

If you purchase the book through my affiliate link (or if you already own it, you can purchase any other book through my link and receive the same bonus), send me a copy of your receipt and I’ll send you a printable workbook to accompany your reading. It walks you through many thought-provoking questions as you read the book, helping you digest and apply what you’re reading. (Reminder: My email is: connect@vibranceandbliss.com)

Purchase the Book

(Don’t forget to email me your receipt for your bonus workbook!)

Have you read the book? Enjoy one of the passages I shared? Let’s start a discussion! What are your thoughts? Tell me in the comments below!

Don’t forget to download your FREE Quotes printable below!

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Self: Worth, Esteem, Confidence

Do you see yourself as your loved ones do? Do you have a sense of your innate worth and value? Do you recognize your unique talents and abilities?

When you look in the mirror, what do you see? What kind of person looks back at you? Is she loved? Does she have value? Does she see it within herself, or does she wait for others to tell her? Does she believe it when they do?

These are all questions, that if you were to answer honestly, would give you a pretty good picture of how you see yourself. This is called your Self-Image, and it’s the combination of three very important elements of your mental health: Your self-worth, self-esteem, and self-confidence.

But why is all this so important?

A healthy and positive perception of ourselves is absolutely critical to a successful life, because it plays not only into a positive mindset, but also mental and physical health. Not to mention how a strong self-image can bolster our resolve for future life difficulties.

So how are you doing on this front? Today we’re going to talk a little about the differences between the three components of self-image, as well as a few things you can do to strengthen yourself in each area. And be sure to take the quiz at the end of this post to see where you stand!

Self-worth

This is perhaps the most simple of the three elements of self-image. It’s essentially just how you see yourself at the core. What you see when you look in the mirror, regardless of any events or life circumstances.

Self-worth centers around the value believe you hold in the world. If you have a strong sense of self-worth, you know you have a purpose, even if you aren’t sure yet of the details. You’re one-of-a-kind and irreplaceable. You’re worthy of people’s time and efforts. You mean something to someone. 

As you can see, these are all elements that other people cannot influence. They’re beliefs you hold for yourself, about yourself.

The good (and bad, I suppose) part to consider here, is that for better or for worse, it’s also the most powerful of the three elements. It also influences them greatly. When you’re strong in this area, you feel as if you’re on top of the world. Unstoppable. Able to accomplish anything. But the opposite is true for the other side: if you feel that you don’t hold worth, you’re much more likely to get yourself in to trouble. To hurt those around you and make choices you normally wouldn’t. When you don’t have a strong sense of self-worth, you might also try to (subconsciously or not) sabotage potential opportunities for success.

Your self-worth is largely built up during your childhood. Growing up, if you had loving parents, supportive teachers and loyal friends, you’re probably blessed with a fair amount of self-worth. People with strong ties to religion are also bolstered in this area. But if your childhood was less than ideal, or you don’t practice a specific religion, you might find yourself struggling to feel your innate worth.

The good news is that no matter what your childhood looked like, self-worth is definitely something that you can build up yourself!

Self-esteem

Though self-worth is very internal (how you view your innnate spirit), your self-esteem can be very dependent on things that occur outside of yourself – like rejection, for example. Yes, you can, of course, control your reaction to every event, but even a small rejection can feel painful and harm the way you look at yourself. Build up enough of these little hurts, and it can drastically change the way we think, and feel, about yourself.

One of the best ways to strengthen your self-esteem is to surround yourself with supportive people who care about you and are concerned with your welfare. People who appreciate your unique talents and skills, and where you have an opportunity to serve and contribute. Everyone likes to be liked and appreciated, and by surrounding yourself with positive people, you’re increasing your circle of support. 

You can also play to your strengths. When you focus on the things you’re good at, you build up your self-esteem by recognizing you have valuable skills that can help contribute to your world. Try not to focus on the things you lack – be grateful for what you have and build on that.

Self-confidence

Self-confidence, on the other hand, deals more with how you feel you appear to others. When your self-confidence is high, you don’t worry about people looking at you badly. You say what you mean and you take action without hesitation. You don’t constantly worry about if so and so thinks you’re dressed wrong or if you’ve said the wrong thing. You’re focus driven and results oriented. You go after what you want, knowing the only thing stopping you, is you.

Believe it or not, there are many people who have a ton of self-confidence, and little or no self-worth or self-esteem. These three terms are not interchangeable in the slightest, but developing and strengthening each will help you live vibrantly and blissfully. So how’s that for a positive life?

How do you rate in these three elements? Take the quiz below to find out your Self-Worth, Self-Esteem & Self-Confidence health-meter!

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