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Morning Anxiety, Procrastination & the Dawn of Presence

Morning Anxiety, Procrastination & the Dawn of Presence

Until recently, I cannot remember the last time I felt that I had experienced a manageable morning. From my experience, mornings have always brought about a great deal of stress in my life and for the longest time I was completely befuddled. Why did I always wake up with a head full of chaos and an impending sense of doom lurking over my shoulder? I always got up on the wrong side of the bed, and no matter what I felt like I was showing up late to life.

Just as many other facets of my existence, I conceded that this unwelcome thought pattern was simply another faulty circuit hardwired into my brain. Many people are burdened with anxiety in the morning, so in this fashion I was correct, but what I did not realize was that I self-inflicted this phenomenon to a greater extent than most. Instead of seeing the anxiety for what it was, a feeling, I treated it as an unwelcome guest of whom I desperately persuaded to leave By doing so I falsely validated this anxiety as a fact, and solidified its place in my thought cycle.

sad_dog

    Procrastination is fear.

    Usually, my morning anxiety populates as an ongoing list of things I have to get done by the time I rest my head to sleep at night. In the past, I built up a steady routine of worrying for the majority of the day, pondering different ways that I could fail at getting everything done. I call this procrastination.

    At its core, I believe procrastination is simply the fear of failure whose derivatives manifest themselves in countless varieties of absurd actions. Whether it was writing an essay, registering a car, studying for an exam, applying for a job, asking a girl out, grocery shopping, developing a website or making a phone call, I excelled at succumbing to this fear.

    I bring up procrastination because I believe it bleeds a lot further into our daily lives than most of us realize. In a sense, I feel that anxiety-ridden mornings are really just an exaggerated exercise in daily procrastination. When I abstractly analyzed my daily routine I found that most of my mornings were spent anxiously fearing the rest of the day.

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    And this fear knew no bounds in its imagination. Will I get everything done? Where do I have to be and when? How will I get there? Will the traffic be bad? What don’t I want to do today and how much time am I going to spend anticipating it? What person might not like me and can I think myself into them liking me? Am I happy with myself? Will I feel this stressed later? Is there something I’m forgetting to worry about?

    Ask yourself questions.

    I wasn’t cognizant of how my thought process “worked” for a long time. Mark Twain once said that, “my life has been filled with many tragedies, most of which never occurred.” I can relate to that. I never heard myself asking the questions listed above, but my nervous attitude and restless demeanor stood as evidence that something was going on under the hood.

    Every morning I was anxious about the day and every night I tossed and turned, replaying all the things I hadn’t accomplished and pre-gaming the next morning’s terrors. This cycle continued ad infinitum. I never understood why. It wasn’t until I finally asked myself one morning why I always felt nervous on awakening that I started to get answers.

    I’ve found that asking questions is crucial in getting answers, and thus arriving at some feasible solution to the problem at hand. I lived in this anxiety and took its baggage at face value without once questioning the reasoning behind it. It was only once I put my energy into asking why I was anxious rather than feeding the anxiety itself that I started getting answers.

    I began to start my morning routine with asking myself, “Okay David, what is actually going on up there?” As crazy as it sounds I started to write down these questions and glossed over them one by one. Putting pen to paper immediately trivialized most of these fears and stole fuel from their fire.

    I highly recommend doing this. I realized that the cornerstone of my anxiety’s foundation was based on the idea of time. Whether worrying about getting something done by noon or realizing that a quarter of my life was over, everything seemed to stem from this mysterious four letter word.

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    time

      So what is time?

      I believe that time is nothing more than a measurement of life, and we as humans have an innate necessity to measure everything.

      Echart Tolle in the Power of Now uses “psychological time” and “clock time” as two labels to set a distinction between the way we allow ourselves to perceive this phenomenon. Echart describes psychological time as an, “identification with the past and continuous compulsive projection into the future,” and broadly encompasses clock time by suggesting its utilized “in the practical aspects of life.”

      I believe that I spent virtually all of my life trapped in psychological time; worrying about how I could have done better in the past and fearing that I wouldn’t succeed in the future. I harbored the notion that it was already too late to do what I wanted and lived with a sense of impending doom looming over me like a timer about to expire. From my personal experience I found that this ticking clock is self-imposed method with which I kept myself trapped by fear.

      In a paper published in 1997 Sudendorf and Corballis argued that,

      “We as humans are unique among the animal kingdom in being able to mentally dissociate ourselves from the present. To do so, we travel backwards and forwards in the mind’s eye to remember and reexperience specify events that happened in the past (episodic memory) and to anticipate and pre experience future scenarios (future planning).”

      This resonated strongly with me. We as humans may be the only damn animal on the planet blessed with the ability to bend time within our minds, yet we primarily use that ability to perpetuate anxiety and fear.

      N.S. Clayton and A. Dickinson of the University of Cambridge released another publication in 2010 extrapolating on this idea and hypothesized that this isn’t a trait unique to humans. They cited birds ability to cache certain memories that would allow them to plan ahead for future food gathering. Assuming their hypothesis is correct, it remains that if other animals have the ability for future planning, than they experience as Echart’s clock time.

      They are certainly not concerned about another bird finding them unattractive in their pursuit of food; they just use their past memories to plan where they should find food for their survival.

      As humans we stand alone in our capacity to worry about meaningless things. I used to ponder why this was the case. Perhaps, upon reaching the top of the food chain, the diminished threats to our survival caused us to invent our own demons to battle.

      I certainly don’t see dogs strolling about on 5th avenue with their tails between their legs because they can’t afford Gucci or devastated that another dog doesn’t give them attention. They move on with their life and don’t harbor on the past. In reality, I don’t know why we are uniquely qualified to create our own issues, but regardless, the fact that we do is readily apparent in everyday societal life.

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      meditation

        Be in the present.

        So how do we reach a point where we can comfortably live with ourselves and feel that everything is okay? I believe a large part of the answer derives from our unnatural, learned trait of constantly comparing ourselves with each other and building expectations based on these comparisons. Theodore Roosevelt once said that, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” While I agree with this statement, I feel that one must go a step further.

        Comparison can only be done between distinct entities, which implies that we are all separate. We all have an urge to build our own identity separate and better than everyone else. And building something separate implies that we are isolating from one another. Have you ever felt alone in a room full of people? That is what I am talking about. Realizing we are one living, breathing energy labeled life allows us to be grateful for others instead of steadfastly insistent that we can be better.

        When I am in the present moment I don’t feel separate, alone or unloved; there is simply no room for it in the now. Everyone may have different gateways in entering the present moment. In the morning, I be by sitting in a comfortable position and focusing on my breath. I allow my thoughts to pass through me, with an absence of judgement and feel my presence in this space. This how I usually meditate.

        At other times throughout the day, when feelings of anxiety or stress creep up, I take a minute and bring my attention back to the breath. Sometimes just realizing that I am not in the present brings me to the point where I can feel alive. I realize that within this life I am never alone. We are all one living, breathing machine. Even trees breathe through photosynthesis. We are just the only organism that allows our mind to get in the way of life.

        On awakening, we as humans should have the urge to burst onto the day, grateful and eager for whatever life has in store for us. We should leave behind our unconscious dream world and welcome the conscious breath. Today we have an opportunity to live each and every moment, casting aside all doubt and trepidation and be in the presence. Fear cannot coexist with the fully conscious moment. Be in life as life is in you, and know that the mechanics of our universe will align itself as it will, regardless of whether you fear it.

        Featured Images: Meditating at the sky Sad dog Girl with clock

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        Featured photo credit: Jean Henrique Wichinoski via flickr.com

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        Last Updated on October 30, 2018

        How To Be Successful In Life? 13 Tips From The Most Successful People

        How To Be Successful In Life? 13 Tips From The Most Successful People

        What is success to you? How to be successful in life?

        To some, when they think of success, they imagine wealth; others want power; some just want to make a positive impact on the world.

        All of these are perfectly valid, indeed success is a concept that means different things to different people. Though no matter what success is to you, it almost certainly isn’t something will come easily.

        There are countless guides and books to being successful, however, as success is personal and unique to each individual. The advice contained in these books can often not be relevant. Therefore following the advice of a single individual can often be unhelpful.

        With this in mind, considering the advice of a great many people, people whose ideas of success were different both to each other, and quite possibly, to you can be a good alternative.

        What follows is a list of thirteen of the best pieces of advice from some of the most successful people who have ever lived. If you want to learn how to be successful, these 13 tips are essential:

        1.Think big.

          From Michelangelo Buonarroti, Great Renaissance Artist:

          “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”

          There are few artists as influential as Michaelangelo. Today centuries after his death, his work still inspires and connects to people. His work is world famous, just think of his statue of David, or the Mural in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.

          Imagine then, if he decided not to work as an artist.

          Being a successful artist has always been extremely difficult, imagine if he decided to give up this ambition in favour of something easier?

          Oftentimes, people often decided to put their dreams aside for something more “realistic”. To give up their dream for something easier. This quote teaches us the danger of such a point of view.
          Instead be ambitious.

          2.Find what you love to do and do it.

            From Oprah Winfrey, Media Mogul:

            “You know you are on the road to success if you would do your job and not be paid for it.”

            This is a good quote to remember and think about when you’re at work.

            Imagine being as successful as possible in your current job. Ultimately you’ll probably find yourself working extremely hard and this it will take up much of your time.

            If it’s a job you hate, then being successful at it might only mean filling your life with something you hate to do. What’s the sense in this?

            Instead, why not focus on doing something you love? When you’ve found what you’re passionate about, you get the motivation to keep you moving. Success at this means the fulfilment of your dreams.

            Not sure what your passion is yet? You should learn about this Motivation Engine first.

            Even if you’re not successful, you still filled your time with something you love to do. Many successful musicians spent years of their lives doing unpaid performances, the only reason they kept playing was because they loved to perform.

            3. Learn how to balance life.

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              From Phil Knight, CEO of Nike Inc.:

              “There is an immutable conflict at work in life and in business, a constant battle between peace and chaos. Neither can be mastered, but both can be influenced. How you go about that is the key to success.”

              All too often, people think that to be successful, they need to make the object of their success their life.

              If a person thinks their job will lead them to success, then they may spend countless hours per day, and well into the evening working hard.

              However this comes at the cost of rest, your health and having an enjoyable life. Ultimately they may burn out and cease to be successful at their job anyway.

              If success comes from having a strong social life and a good group of friends, their job may suffer; meaning that they may lose their job, and then be unable to afford going out with friends.

              In these ways, success, as Phil Knight says above, is helped by balance. Think of it as a balance between rest and work, or work and play.

              To achieve that balance, this Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life can help you.

              4. Do not be afraid of failure.

                From Henry Ford, Founder of Ford Motors:

                “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

                There is a story, it’s unconfirmed whether it actually happened, yet the message within is none the less true:

                Thomas Edison inventing the lightbulb was the result of several hundred failed attempts. In an interview, he was asked “How do you feel after all of your failed attempts?”

                His response was great, “I didn’t fail, I learned hundreds of ways not to invent the lightbulb”

                He saw each “failure” as a lesson. From that lesson he learned what won’t work, and also might work instead.

                Each failed attempt, each rejection, were key steps on his path to success. It is easy to feel like you should give up after a failure. But perhaps in that failure is a lesson.

                Pay attention to your failures, study them. Perhaps then you’ll learn how to succeed.

                5. Have an unwavering resolution to succeed.

                  From Colonel Sanders, Founder of KFC:

                  “I made a resolve then that I was going to amount to something if I could. And no hours, nor amount of labor, nor amount of money would deter me from giving the best that there was in me. And I have done that ever since, and I win by it. I know.”

                  This, in many ways relates to the above quote about learning from your failures.

                  It’s the easiest thing in the world to give up from a failure. The only way to push on is if you have the true burning desire to succeed, to not be moved or dissuaded from your goals.

                  If you are not truly dedicated towards success, then each failure will hurt more, each set back will slow you down.

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                  Success is hard; without the unwavering desire to succeed, this difficulty may seem insurmountable. With the desire, it is merely an obstacle to go through.

                  6. Be a person of action.

                    From Leonardo da Vinci, Renaissance Genius:

                    “It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”

                    Though it was said hundreds of years ago, it works just as much today as it ever had. It applies to literally any successful person.

                    Think about it, picture someone like William Shakespeare:

                    When we think of the time he lived in, we think of the time in a way shaped by him. When we think of Renissance era Italy, we think of Michaelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci.

                    Or think about the present day:

                    Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. Our current way of life would simply be incomparably different if they didn’t accomplish what they did.

                    You’re probably reading this article on a device by a company that they either founded or companies influenced by them.

                    All these figures were proactive, they saw ways to do things differently and did them. If they let the world shape them, then they’d simply fit into the background. Instead they shaped the world.

                    Applying this to you?

                    Don’t be afraid of going outside the norm. If you can think of a better way to do something, do it that way. If you fail, try again.

                    7. Avoid conflicts.

                      From Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of America: “

                      The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.”

                      The best leaders and some of the most influential people (and Theodore Roosevelt is one of the best leaders and one of the most influential people to have lived) were not those who caused commotions, who fought with people or disregarded people; but were people who were friendly to those around them.

                      People liked them. They wanted them to do well.

                      This is key to good leadership.

                      It’s logical. If someone likes you, they want to help you; if you give them a suggestion, they’ll gladly follow through with it.

                      But if someone doesn’t like you, they may either refuse to help or actively get in your way.

                      What’s more, it’s always a good idea to cultivate good relationships. You can never tell who will prove to become someone who’ll be able to help you in a big way, or even be a good and supportive friend.

                      As such, help people and they may help you; and be good to people, and they my be good to you.

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                      8. Don’t be afraid of introducing new ideas.

                        From Mark Twain, Famed Author:

                        “A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.”

                        It is an unfortunate truth that those with the boldest ideas are often disregarded.

                        Most of us are taught from an early age to think and do things similarly to everyone else. This can be great to fill an existing role. But to truly do things differently (and all successful people did things differently), you need to think differently.

                        If you have a new idea, don’t throw it away because it’s new and different; instead, celebrate it. Your strange new idea might one day be the one that leads you to success.

                        9. Believe in your capacity to succeed.

                          From Walter Disney, Founder of Walt Disney Company:

                          “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

                          Success has to be something you can imagine yourself achieving.

                          It is possible that you will come across those who doubt you and your ability to succeed. You must not become one of these people because the moment you cease believing and dreaming is the moment these dreams fall away.

                          Keep dreaming!

                          10. Always maintain a positive mental attitude.

                            From Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of America:

                            “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”

                            Like the above quote says, you need to trust in your ability to succeed. This is the only way to cultivate the right mindset.

                            Replace negative thoughts with the positive ones. You need to approach problems, not as obstacles stopping you, but merely tasks that need to be completed for you to keep going.

                            If you stay positive and think like this, setbacks won’t affect you so much, people’s doubts won’t impact you and even the biggest obstacles will seem like minor problems.

                            However with the wrong mindset of doubt, you’ll be much easier to stop.

                            11. Don’t let discouragement stop you from pressing on.

                              From Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of America:

                              “Let no feeling of discouragement prey upon you, and in the end you are sure to succeed.”

                              It is an unfortunate fact of human nature — all of us in some way, doubt ourselves. This can be made far worse if others doubt us too.

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                              When surrounded by doubts, giving up can actually seem like a good idea.

                              Don’t pay attention to the doubts. If you are discouraged, ignore it.

                              If this discouragement moves into your mind and you begin to doubt yourself. It is important to ignore this too.

                              Take a look at these 5 Ways to Stop Self Doubt in its Tracks.

                              12. Be willing to work hard.

                                From JC Penny, Founder of JC Penney Inc.:

                                “Unless you are willing to drench yourself in your work beyond the capacity of the average man, you are just not cut out for positions at the top.”

                                You might have heard the quote that “success is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration” or you may have heard about the 10,000 hours idea.

                                Whichever way you frame it, they say one thing:

                                True success comes from work.

                                You’ll never become successful if you don’t work towards your goal in life and keep working towards it.

                                Check out this article and you’ll understand Why Hard Work Beats Talent.

                                13. Be brave enough to follow your intuition.

                                  From Steve Jobs, Co-founder of Apple Inc.:

                                  “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

                                  In ancient Greece, there was a group of Oracles who lived in Delphi. Everyone who needed advice or to know their future visited them, from the poorest of society to kings. Above the doorway of the temple were the words “know thyself”.

                                  If you strongly believe and desire something, the chances are that you already have an idea how to get there. If not, you may naturally know what things will help you and what things will slow you down.

                                  It’s like how your body can detect danger even when things seem safe.

                                  Ultimately then, you need to trust your own instincts.

                                  Final thoughts

                                  What you might have noticed is that many of the above lessons are similar — most are about developing the right state of mind. This clearly suggests that the key to achieving success, in whatever you wish, comes down to the way you approach it mentally.

                                  Moreover, no matter what stage of life you’re at now, you can still make a difference and pursue success. You can make resetting your life possible when you do this:

                                  How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

                                  More Recommended Lifehack Experts in Success

                                  • Mandie Holgate — Successful life coach in the UK, helping businesses and individuals achieve greatness
                                  • David Carpenter — Lifelong entrepreneur and business owner helping others to realize the American Dream of business ownership
                                  • Ray Zinn — An inventor, entrepreneur, bestselling author and the longest serving CEO in Silicon Valley

                                  Featured photo credit: Ryan Wong via unsplash.com

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