“And I’m all mixed up again. Which way should I go? So many voices in my head…” – Inhabited
Did you ever have so many voices in your head that you had no idea which one was yours? I know the drill. The more serious the decision, the more voices that show up to confuse you. Who do these voices belong to?
Running away from problems
In my mid twenties I had so many voices in my head and was so sick and tired of the way they talked to me and confused me, that I decided to try and leave them behind. Literally.
So I went to Europe. Alone. I needed to get that far away to try and shut them down. Now I understand that it’s not feasible for most people, so bear with me. You do not actually have to go anywhere to begin to figure this out.
Nonetheless, desperate moments call for desperate actions and at that time, I was desperate. So, I flew from Philadelphia to London one cold December night. Within a couple of hours of landing I was standing in Picadilly Circus all alone in a crowd of people. Cell phones were virtually non-existent. Despite my exhaustion and jet lag, I was elated.
I stood there quietly, just absorbing my surroundings, and my mind was the quietest it had ever been. I felt free. Where did those voices go?Advertising
We soak up so many versions of how our life should be
From the time we are too small to even remember, we have information coming into our brains. We are sponges soaking up everything going on around us. We have Moms and Dads, aunts and uncles, grandparents, siblings, teachers, religious leaders, coaches, television programs and even peers…all telling us how life is, how we should be behaving and what is expected of us.
We just take it all in, all the while attempting to make sense of it so we can figure out how it applies to our lives. Many of those voices, unfortunately, come from a distorted world view, at best. Sometimes those voices are just blatantly damaging.
Nonetheless, as kids, we usually believe those voices are truth. Often times, if we don’t comply with those voices we pay a price. Punishment can be a powerful motivator, especially when you are a dependent, powerless child.
It’s called survival. So we internalize a whole slew of voices and opinions and they become the “shoulds” dictating our lives.
Those “shoulds” don’t belong to us. We inherited them from someone else. So when you tell yourself you “should” or “shouldn’t” do something. Ask yourself why. Before you make that final decision, it would be helpful to figure out whose voice you are listening to…or at the very least, if it is yours.
Shift your focus to find your own voice
The place to find your one true voice will not be found in your head. It will be found in your heart. That means you have to shift your focus. Move out of your head and focus on your heart. If you did not have all those voices in your head telling you what to do or not to do or why you should or shouldn’t do something….what would you do? What do you want?!Advertising
If you are answering, “I don’t know” then you may still be engaged in the conflict between your head and your heart. Try again….in the ideal world, without a millions reasons or excuses, what would you do?
I remember trying to make a difficult employment decision. I was working as an RN for a law firm. It was a nice gig. I had been there for five years. I liked what I was doing, despite having grown bored with it. I was paid a decent salary. I got along great with my employers and co-workers. I was good at what I did. I was respected. I had flexibility. I could take extended lunch hours, if needed. They took us on a trip to Jamaica. Who could ask for more?
I was considering returning to patient care, specifically hospice care. I had interviewed with a local hospice organization out of curiosity. I was offered a position. My brain went into overdrive. The voices in my head were relentless.
“What if you hate it?” “You will never get this flexibility in another job…certainly, no one is going to take you on an all expense paid island get-away.” “What are you thinking?” “Working with dying people…really?!” “Why would you leave a good job for something you know nothing about?” And so it goes, on and on and on…
I was paralyzed, afraid of making the “wrong decision”. I paced around my house, tormenting myself. I avoided talking to anyone about it, already having enough opinions roaming aimlessly through my head.
Legal work to hospice care was a huge and terrifying leap. After almost two weeks of grappling with it, I was no closer to making a decision. I was trying to figure it all out in my head and I was getting nowhere, but frustrated. Suddenly, during my second week of pacing around my home, losing in my head, I stopped suddenly.Advertising
I stood still in a spare bedroom of my house. I unknowingly shifted my focus out of my head and asked myself, “What do you want to do?” The answer was clear, “I want to do hospice care.” The next silent question was, “So what is the problem?” Again, the answer was clear, “I’m scared.”
In understanding why I was unable to make a decision, I realized that I wanted to make the move, but fear of the unknown was stopping me. The voices stopped. I knew what to do.
Listen to your heart
Those voices in my head were all the well intended, nonetheless, fearful voices of my youth. They came from parental and societal expectations of what employment life “should” look like. They were all the practical, well-advised opinions that keep many from finding their true purpose.
I resigned from the law firm and within a month, I was doing hospice care. That life changing decision was a stepping stone to my current career as a psychotherapist. It was while doing hospice care that I realized I was better with the psychological and spiritual side of life than the physical.
My heart knew what my head did not. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. Had I stayed in my head and ignored my heart, I might still be trudging through life. Though I may still be doing something worthwhile and honorable, it would be, nonetheless, unfulfilling.
Now, please understand, we need our heads to help us navigate life. Our heads have to work through the practical part of what we are doing. We need our heads and our hearts to work in conjunction with each other in order to make our decision work.Advertising
But when we are making a decision about what is best for our life, the heart needs to lead. The mind is fearful.
Once you make the jump, your are heading on a journey towards your heart’s desire
Although not necessary, it can help to consider to whom those voices in your head belong. Who were the naysayers? Who told you what life was “supposed” to look like? How have parental or societal expectations dictated the life you are living? What fear has been projected on to you?
Whenever your mind is in overdrive…fear is involved. Hesitate, and ask yourself, “what am I afraid of?”
In asking myself that question, I discovered I was afraid of failing. I was afraid of regret. I was afraid I would be a lousy hospice nurse. I was afraid of facing death, not only that of others, but more importantly, my own. I could not disconnect from my own mortality and still help others grapples with theirs.
But I also knew that in desiring it, my heart was leading me to the place that was most right for me. As long as I follow the desires of my heart, I usually, likely always, land right where I am supposed to. I stayed there two years before feeling another pull at my heart, telling me it was time to move on. Each step leads to the next…and to the next and to the next.
Take that first step and you might actually discover, you are creating the life you want.
Featured photo credit: http://getrefe.tumblr.com/ via 65.media.tumblr.com
Last Updated on January 17, 2019
8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life
In life, we all need to be conscientious of what we are doing. You don’t need to live a life of stress if you don’t want to. You can achieve peace and happiness in life by carefully building mindfulness exercises into your life’s routine.
Exercising mindfulness isn’t rocket science and as importantly, you can do it. It will, however, take a few tries to get into the groove of things but once you get it, it is like riding a bike, you will never lose it.
Trust me. It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. In this article, I will share with you 8 mindfulness exercises that will help you to boost your energy, vitality and live a more peaceful and happier life.
Table of Contents
Why Is It Hard to Live A Peaceful And Happy Life?
Our Habitat Has Become Too Technological
The world has accepted the idea that technology is often the cure for all evil. We have accepted, as a society, that everything technological will make us live a better life without fully investigating the many side effects that modernity brings.
There are a number of technological side effects that have a tremendous impact on your life that the media rarely tells you about. Some of them include self-harm, economic inequality, having less sex, and even suicide. The global community is becoming less happy because of technology.
How can anybody live a peaceful and happy life when they are depressed? Technology advancements, ladies and gents, is a major reason for why we are living a poor life because it has infiltrated our lives too much.
According to my research, Americans spend an average of 8 hours a day looking at the computer screen — The average screen time spent on smartphones alone is about 20 hours per week. That’s a lot! No wonder why living a happy and peaceful life is so difficult these days.
Too Many People Don’t Want to Unplug
Americans check their phones an average of 80 times during vacation. Some admit to checking their smartphones 300 times every single day. In countries like Brazil, India and China, the situation is no different.
The reality is that people are constantly plugged into technological devices and this behavior is literally making people all over the globe fight an inner war with themselves, which consequently makes them very sad. As we know, war is the enemy of peace which won’t make anybody happy.
We have a global anxiety epidemic because people don’t want to unplug from their smartphones and most people aren’t doing anything to fix it. It is a sad state of affairs but very real. This obsession with technology is turning us into perishable robots who live terrible lives.
The era of anxiety is here to stay. There is little doubt about it. We can, however, fight back with the best remedy of all — We call it mindfulness!
Thank God there is an antidote to this whole technological madness. Without further ado, let’s go straight to the mindful exercises.
8 Mindfulness Exercises to Start Practicing
There are tons of mindfulness exercises available for you to engage with out there. In the paragraphs below, I will include the best ones I’ve personally tried or have seen my close friends and family members try.
Are you ready for it? Let’s go!
1. Pray Daily
You should pray on a daily basis. Why is that you may ask — Well, because science has told us to do so.
When people pray, they feel peaceful, almost eliminating anxiety. Worries become secondary, and often gives people energy and hope to cope with the difficulties of life.
Prayer can make you more confident and focused. Prayer also helps you with self-control, helps to control pain, and can protect you against illnesses and disorders like cancer and high blood pressure. At least, this is what researchers from Harvard Medical School have said.
Pray. You won’t regret it.
2. Pay Attention to Your Inner Thoughts
A lot of people allow themselves to be influenced by their negative thoughts. Be different and resist believing in them. It is a bad habit that can lead to unhappiness.
By the way, if you do feel this way, chances are high that somebody other than you put these thoughts into your head.
Here is my secret to combat this cancer — look at things objectively. I bet that if you look at things as they are, you will realize that most if not all of your negative thoughts are only inside of your head.
If you pay close attention, you will quickly realize that these voices aren’t worth your time. Believe me — Ignoring them and looking at things with objectivity is often the best course of action.
This article can guide you to beat negative thoughts:
3. Smile Often
Smiling will slow down your heart. It will also relax your body because when you smile, your body releases endorphins which in itself has a number of positive benefits for you as a person.
Smile often! You may want to smile early in the morning, during the day, and late in the evening. It is amazing what happens to you when you decide to smile instead of being grumpy.
Surrender your problems to a nice smile. You will notice two things. First, most people just don’t which makes them live a miserable life. Second, if you decide to smile often, you will eventually smile unconsciously which is the ideal.
The moment that you smile unconsciously, you then know that you are truly happy.
4. Organize Your Working Desk
A messy desk will make you less productive and can agitate and overstimulate you. You don’t want that.
When you clear your desk, you engage in deep inner-thinking and your systematic decision making ends up becoming therapeutic.
Most people realize that they are most creative when their creative space is clean and organized. The former often makes people more aware of what they are doing which lends to less stress and more productivity.
Organizing your desk will also make you more energetic and focused because order often decreases chaos which is a condition that often slows down daily progress.
5. Celebrate Your Friend’s Victories
I love this mindful exercise. One of the best ways to live a happy and peaceful life is to celebrate the victories of others. When you do that, you automatically make your friends in a better mood which makes you in a better mood, as well.
Happiness is contagious! We might as well celebrate others as much as we can. If you find out that your peer has won an award, celebrate with him! If your friend is the recipient of a local charity award, celebrate with her!
What is also awesome is that when you celebrate with others, they often celebrate with you in return. This, ladies and gentleman, will make you feel fantastic. You can’t go wrong with this one, period.
6. Listen to Your Spouse/Partner
God put someone in your life for a reason. You might as well listen to him or her.
I listen to my wife everyday. In fact, I often ask the following question to her, “Amanda, what are your thoughts about…” or “What am I missing about…” It is shocking what I hear back from her. Without her having much context and perspective, by the art of observation in my own nonverbal behavior and the behavior of others, she accurately gives me incredible insights which helps me out with living my life to the fullest.
I’m a firm believer that spouses are supposed to engage in interpersonal communication every day. I most definitely do and will continue doing it. You should do the same.
7. Give Yourself a Break from Technology
You can’t be in total equilibrium if your computerized devices control your life. You must get away from technology on a daily basis.
How do you do that? This is my formula:
First, take this smartphone control test. It is only ten questions but this test will place you somewhere in the human robot cycle continuum.
If your score is between 25-30, take a break from the computer (or smartphone, pad, laptop/desktop) every twenty minutes and stop being on a computerized device after 8:00pm.
If you score between 30-35, still take a break every 20 minutes but stop being on these devices at 5:00pm.
If you score more than 35, you need to take action immediately.
Limit computer use as much as possible throughout the day. Give yourself as many breaks from the computer as possible. Are you ready for the challenge?
8. Go Exercise
Go exercise at least three times a week. I don’t care if you need to workout early in the morning, late in the evening, on the weekends or during work days. Working out is absolutely imperative for you to live happy and peaceful life.
The stresses of the modern world are too much for you to neglect this important mindfulness exercise. When you go to the gym, you burn calories, focus on activities one step at a time, your mind relaxes, anxiety decreases, you sweat and often think about topics unrelated to your work place among many other benefits.
You must exercise at least three hours each week for optimum results. Why? Just take a look at all the benefits of regular exercising:
The Bottom Line
It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. Now that our habitat has become too technological and many people just don’t want to unplug, engaging in daily prayer, celebrate your friends’ victories, and listening to your spouse are among the best ways to be mindful about what you are doing and how you are living.
It is possible to live a happy and peaceful life. It only depends on you.
Go exercise! Take a break from technology and invest in you! Life is too short for distractions.
More Resources About Mindfulness
- How Mindfulness Can Improve Our Focus and Productivity
- Meditation for Beginners: How to Meditate Deeply and Quickly
- Meditation Can Change Your Life: The Power of Mindfulness
- 10 Amazing Benefits of Mindfulness Backed by Science
- I’ve Tried Mindfulness Meditation, Here’s Why You Should Try it Too
Featured photo credit: Lesly Juarez via unsplash.com
|||^||The Conversation: What might explain the unhappiness epidemic?|
|||^||Fox News: Americans don’t know how to ‘unplug’ on vacation, study finds|
|||^||Develop Good Habits: 71 Mindfulness Exercises for Living in the Present Moment|
|||^||Care2: 7 Proven Health Benefits of Prayer|
|||^||In Touch Ministries: 14 Benefits of Prayer|
|||^||BBC: Can’t unplug? Here’s hot to navigate your digital anxiety|