Quiet Courage

My sister recently started university and seems to be having a good time. She has friends and made a good effort to meet new people.

The person most surprised at this is probably her.

Weeks prior to starting university she came into my room many times, sometimes at night, to say:

“What if I won’t make friends?”

“What if no one likes me?”

And so on.

The thing is, she’s very friendly and when she wants to be, she has a higher than 50% chance at being funny. When she does finally talk to people, the conversations don’t end in one person on fire and the other in tears. They’re fairly normal.

This, she didn’t believe. Even up to the point when we were saying goodbye, she voiced doubts about making friends and having a good time. Before she walked away, my mum started pointing out people she could talk to as if she planted people in the crowd to make the start of university easier.

Goodbyes were said and she walked away. But she didn’t dart to her right and run upstairs into her room. She joined a group of people and started talking.

Quiet courage

This probably doesn’t seem like a big deal. All she did was say hello and not fall on the floor. She probably doesn’t think it’s a big deal but that doesn’t take away from what happened.

She had a small fear: she’s not going to make friends. It was at the forefront of her mind up until she said hello.

She stepped over this barrier and continued forward despite of the fear hanging around in the back of her head.

Not all courage needs to be loud.

Courage isn’t limited to those who have faced great adversity such as overcoming cancer, giving a speech in front of thousands of people or charging into battle in the front line. Nor is it limited to firefighters, surgeons or police officers. It’s something all of us exhibit.

It involves facing small fears we may have such as talking to new people, asking for help even if you think pride stops you or remaining persistent with something even though you’re not too good.

Since this courage doesn’t demand great attention from others, it’s easy to go unnoticed. Even to the person who exhibits it. It might be dismissed as something too small to be proud of.

Such dismissal might take the form of: “If Mary did [enter grand event here] why should I be proud of talking to a new person?”

Thankfully, there are many examples of quiet courage that we should take time to appreciate. Here are some examples I’ve seen in a few of my own friends.

  • She used to be overly critical about herself and university grades. Now she practises much more compassion.
  • He joined a group to help with weight-loss.
  • She started sharing her work with friends.
  • She told her business idea to non-friends and admitted it’s something she wants to pursue.

There are more examples of this that can very easily swim around unnoticed and you can probably find examples like this among your own friends. Hopefully, you’ll be able to find it in yourself too.

Why is it important?

It’s remarkably easy to be harsh on ourselves.

If we do something wrong, it’s because of our flawed character. If a friend does the same thing, we don’t subject them to the same criticism. Not just because we don’t want to lose a friend but because that criticism wouldn’t be true.

Noticing and appreciating quiet courage helps remove us from the negative and often exaggerated thoughts we might have of ourselves. Doing so moves us closer to self-compassion and further from self-criticism.

It’s a welcome change noticing a small thing you can be proud of. Even if we aren’t bothered by self-criticism, it’s a good exercise in catching the good in ourselves and other people. If we do find ourselves in tough times, appreciating the good in small things is an unbelievably valuable thing to do.

It’s OK to appreciate our own examples of quiet courage.

You don’t need to scream from the top of our lungs “I spoke to someone new!” every time you make steps to beating social anxiety but you can congratulate yourself. It acts as small encouragement to keep trying. Which is, of course, the best we can do.

But if you do want to scream your encouragements to the world, please do. Just not in my ear.


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The Low Information Diet

I used to read the news every morning and thought this was a good thing. I’m sure that at some point, I thought more people should do it because it’s important to be an ‘informed citizen’. It wasn’t just a thing I did, it was a duty.

I’m sure I got this habit from my dad. He’s woken up by the news with his radio and continues listening to it on his way to work. He’s an extremely informed person and can probably tell you anything about politics on demand.

However, as I’ve grown up, I’ve strayed from my dad in this respect. I no longer read the news every morning and don’t think it’s necessary for anything.

In fact, I want to read the news less.

This is what this post is about. Reading less news and reducing the needless amount of information we consume every day for greater clarity, focus and more happiness.

Most of the links supporting my argument will be at the end (so you don’t have an endless number of tabs open at the end).

What is the Low Information Diet?

Consuming less information.

Mainly the news but it can also include blogs, internet forums and, email and so on.

There are a number of reasons for this and I think they support the aim to consume less information on a daily basis so we can pursue other interests and be more involved in our own lives through active engagement rather than passive participation.

Removing the passive aspect of news consumption means we’ll make a more deliberate effort with the information we consume and become more likely to consume higher quality information.

Why bother?

I want to highlight a few important reasons why we should consume less news and information. I will also address a few problems people might have.

A lot of this is inspired by the essay Avoid News: Towards a Healthy News Diet by Rolf Dobelli. I don’t agree with everything he says but that’s not terribly important.

News is harmful

It is sometimes beyond useless.

The overwhelming majority of news is negative. Studies have shown the average ratio is 17:1 or 95% negative news!

You may come to the conclusion that it’s just the way the world is.

I was part of a lecture given by two BBC News journalists where they taught us how to create compelling headlines and write stories. There was a Q&A session at the end and I asked one of the women what she thought about the lack of positive news in the media.

“Positive news doesn’t really go anywhere.”

You can create stories from a murder investigation but stories about literacy rates increasing or cured diseases tend to stop after one news reel. It may be true that positive stories and tend to lack new developments the same way a negative one would but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Since news stations (even government-funded ones like the BBC) require views, they’re far more likely to include prolonged negative stories rather than standalone positives.

This attitude is compounded at times. Myself included. The attitude of ‘positive news isn’t real news’ pervades our thinking far too often. If we hear about an explosion that’s killed 30 people but see the news reporting about plastic bag use decreasing (which has important consequences for our environment) we might think to ourselves ‘This isn’t news. Why are they wasting my time?’

It’s unfortunate because it hides the good in the world using the excuse of ‘I want truth’ which is really a veil covering needless cynicism.

Assuming the world is bad and wanting the news to confirm that belief that is not truth-seeking. It’s ego-stroking.

Being bombarded with negative news is very good at causing anxiety.

We get facts about some disaster and feel bad about it. It doesn’t affect us directly so we don’t do anything to help apart from say ‘that’s really sad’. Then we feel bad about something we can’t change.

For a lot of people, the news doesn’t inspire the amount of action that’s proportionate to the news we watch every day. So a lot of the time, we’re entertaining feelings of depressed helplessness.

It’s rarely substantial

Most of the news we read or watch isn’t substantial. They’re bound to be very short articles without much investigation. That’s the nature of first-then-fact news. These pieces are bound to just make us feel bad about an event without discussions (not assertions) about why the event happened or what progress is being made on the problem.

There are many brilliant articles and journalistic pieces out there. They take time and effort to both create and digest. The feelings they create whether positive or negative are a result of active engagement rather than a simple fact devoid of proper discussion.

You can test this yourself. Think about the number of articles and news pieces you’ve read today and count the number of things that have made a substantial effect on your day. The number is probably low. Unfortunately, if you haven’t already spent time curating your sources of information, then the ratio of useless to engaging will be skewed in the wrong direction.

Not everything you read or watch needs to be life-changing. That’s a high ask.

The aim here is to focus our attention to sources of information or activities that improve the quality of our lives and the time we spend taking part in the activity. A trip in the 24 hour news cycle is unlikely to do that.

Dobelli’s point here is important. He says it’s difficult to recognize what’s relevant but much easier to recognise what’s new. The news always offers us new things but can’t always be relevant to our own lives on a consistently enough to justify following it every day.

If something is relevant, the chances are we’ll hear about it from someone else who follows the news or from more specialised sources.

If we miss out, the world will keep on spinning and your day will keep on moving forward.

No, you won’t be boring

A fear I’ve heard expressed is that we’ll become boring if we don’t stay up to date with the news because we’ll have nothing to talk about.

It’s true that some small talk focuses on current events but I don’t think this is particularly important. There are two reasons for this:

  • News isn’t much to bond over.

It’s much more useful to take interest in the person you’re talking to rather than a news event that has a high chance of just creating pity.

  • Consuming higher quality information leads to higher quality conversation.

This does not mean academic information. If we focus on things we find really engaging (that can be reading a comic, book or watching a film etc.), we’ll be happier talking about them to other people and others will be happier to learn about them.

I’m confident that the best conversations you’ve had did not revolve around the most recent news event at the time.

If current events do come up, it means you’ll learn something new.

Don’t worry if it’s daunting to always say ‘I didn’t hear about that’ (not that there’s anything wrong with it). This information diet does not necessarily require no news at all but a deliberate reduction.

Too much information ruins our attention  

While I think the other points are important, I find this is particularly potent because it expands beyond the problems of the news.

There’s only so much time and energy we have every day to focus our attention on certain things. Bombarding ourselves with more information day every forces us to make many decisions about small things.

Nicholas Carr wrote an article expanding on this problem. A study was completed in 2007 analysing what happens to brain activity when novices to the internet begin browsing the internet for prolonged times. Their brain activity increased significantly but that didn’t automatically mean better brain activity. They were more likely to skim articles, and become more shallow thinkers.

This doesn’t mean skimming is bad. It’s a vital skill but clearly cannot become the only way we consume information. If not for the fact that slower and deeper reading leads to better comprehension, keep in mind that being engaged with activities is a key ingredient to being happy.

What can you do instead?

One complaint about the low information diet is that you might not have anything else to do. Another is that being fully engaged with activities is often tiring. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Read a good book/article
  • Talk to people
  • Write a journal about your day
  • Look around and take in your surroundings (I’m serious)
  • Listen to music
  • Watch a movie or enjoyable videos (stand-up comedy is an example)

There are many things you can do which don’t require a lot of mental energy which are still enjoyable and remove us from anxiety-inducing news.

The Low Information Challenge

You might not be convinced by this.

I wasn’t at first and feared that I would lose my privilege as an informed citizen. None of that happened. I’ve strayed from this and wish to go back. Here’s a challenge that we can do:

  • No news for one day. Then a week. If you can keep on going, even better.

It will require a deliberate effort since checking the news tends to be an ingrained habit nowadays. That’s why we’re starting off small rather than diving into never reading the news again.

If that sounds too difficult or simply absurd try the softer version.

  • Restrict news consumption to 10 minutes at the end of the day

Rather than welcoming endless streams of information, we limit it on purpose.

I recommend trying going cold turkey first though. There are benefits to just not reading the news at all.

In a month, I’ll report back about how the low information challenge went. I hope you join in too!

‘til next time.


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Further Reading:

Avoid News: Towards a Healthy News Diet by Rolf Dobelli [PDF]

A short objection to Dobelli’s article (highlights some of the disagreements I have with Dobelli)

The Low Information Diet (Mr Money Moustache)

News is 17:1 negative – Studies like this tend to be he-said-she-said where they’re repeated ad nauseam without a source. I found one in Democracy Under Attack: How the Media Distort Policy and Politics by Malcolm Dean p.415 (he actually has it at 18:1)

Why We Love Bad News More Than Good News

Why Bad News Dominates Headlines (very good discussion about our tendency to say we want good news but read bad news)

The Power of Ignoring Mainstream News

Some Great Articles:

The Blind Man Who Taught Himself to See

Lionel Messi is Impossible

How David Hume Helped Me through my Midlife Crisis

This blog I found is full of them…

If you have any recommendations, feel free to mention them below!

Let the Fear Pass

Fear is like a cloud.

It hovers over your head and the tasks you want to complete. But after a while, it passes and the sky becomes clear again.

When I notice myself putting something off and ask why, I tend to feel uncomfortable. Usually because there’s not much reason other than  ‘I don’t want to’. Appealing to laziness is the same thing.

Usually, the bigger the task, the greater the uncomfortable feeling. This, and generally poor energy management, is probably why students tend to leave big essays until they begin to panic about the deadlines.

I experience this feeling a lot. It often leads to potent self-criticism that only serves to make me feel bad.

One thing I’ve found helpful is to meditate on this feeling. It takes less than a minute.

What am I experiencing right now? Am I worried about what’s going to happen if I try?

More often than not, it’s fear. Either the fear of discomfort or fear of failure. Every time I catch myself experiencing these feelings, the less powerful they become.

We don’t have to fear the discomfort of trying something new because it can signal a challenge that fosters some personal growth. It’s important not to diminish this growth even if you think it’s tiny. If your challenge was to pick up dirty clothes from the floor and you surpassed it, that’s a cleaner room you didn’t have yesterday.

Neither should we fear failure to the point where it stops us from moving forward because we can only succeed at something if we try and the joy of succeeding is greater than the pain of failure.  Giving ourselves the excuse not to try is only a disservice to our abilities and passions.

Once permission is given not to be consumed by fear and not influence our actions, it passes. Just like a cloud.

As with many things, observing fear and letting it pass takes practice. I still fall victim to putting things off due to these fears as they will always pop up somewhere. It’s a normal thing and it’d be silly to expect everyone to be fearless all the time.

The goal is to move forward despite its existence.

At first, even noticing you’re afraid of something is difficult then moving past it can be a small battle. But don’t get discouraged if you notice its been victorious. Next time you’ll focus on the feeling again and it’ll become easier.

With time and practise, the fear will weaken and you will be immersed in the present moment.

***

Further Reading: 

  1. Create without expectation
  2. On Productivity and Presence
  3. What’s wrong with now?

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On Productivity and Presence

For the longest time, I was obsessed with being more productive and fell into the productivity trap.

I felt I needed to get more done in less time. My pain denied me the luxury of spending a long time on essays or problem sets, so I made it my goal to learn how to make the most of my time. Which I think is a perfectly fine goal and I still hold it. The problem I want to focus on arises when productivity is reached to the detriment of presence and being mindful.

There’s a slight divide between living with presence and productivity. The former is often lost in the latter.

What’s the point of all this productivity? Why am I so interested in the next thing rather than what I’m doing now?

We shouldn’t be so focused on what will happen next and don’t do what’s in front of us.

Nor should we be so focused on completing a task that we forget to experience it.

When I started read about self-improvement, I came across meditation and adopted the practice. Mindfulness meditation places an importance on being focused on the present moment alone. When thoughts come into our head, we let them pass like clouds moving through the sky.

We remain in the present which helps free us from anxiety about the future and regret from the past.

The difference between presence and productivity can be seen in everyday tasks.

Discarding productivity when reading means we aren’t concerned about when the book ends so we can start the next one. We’re just enjoying the dialogue, the story, and sometimes, the absurdity (I’m looking at you, Catch-22).

When we eat food, we enjoy how it tastes rather than inhaling it to get back to work.

And so on.

This divide definitely isn’t a strict one. I don’t want to mislead people into thinking that being concerned with productivity means we are unconcerned with presence and vice versa. There are a million and three qualifications one can make to this general idea of aiming to be more present than productive. For example, an employer may not care so much about how mindful you are if you’re always missing targets. But that’s a discussion for another time.

Leading a productive day can be much more fulfilling if we go through it mindfully.

It’s easy to ask how to be more productive while forgetting what it means to be productive and then forgetting why you desire productivity. When we get to that point, it’s an apt reminder for us to slow down and become aware of the present moment once more.

The moment we can be the most engaged in.

On Purposeless Walking

“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”

Henry David Thoreau

In the evening, when the business of the day is over, go for a walk. Walk with mindfulness and without purpose.

I remember I started walking because there was a day when I became angry and irritable. Instead of staying in the same environment that caused the anger, I went for a walk. My initial purpose was to calm down but I began doing it every night and eventually I just ended up walking for the sake of walking.

Nowadays, we don’t really go on purposeless walks any more because walking in general has become a bit of a luxury. In the UK, 25% of journeys include walking but only 17% of people landed in the ‘just to walk’ category. And that category included dog-walkers. So we can imagine that number would drop if fewer people owned dogs. Of course, some people have to or simply enjoy walking more than others but the category of just walking for the sake of it seems to be decreasing.

Most of our entertainment is in our homes, we can take transport to most places or if we do go on a walk, it tends to be in order to get somewhere else. Like school or to the shop.

I say we should go on more pointless walks.

Why?

Going for walks without purpose relieves us of the multiple distractions that plague us throughout the day. With the increasing connectedness we have with other people, walking without purpose grants us permission to spend time alone. It means we can appreciate our surroundings better because that’s all we need to focus on. No longer do we need to remain captivated by the glare of our phones.

Many famous writers like Charles Dickens and Virginia Woolf walked without purpose as it helped improve their creativity. They have time for solitude and lack of distraction. They can work through ideas in their head or just find more inspiration in the simplest of things.

The Thoreau quote at the beginning speaks an important truth. If we want to create deep mental paths in our minds, we have to do a lot of thinking. Too often I find myself giving up if I cannot express myself properly or if I’m stuck on a problem. We can’t figure out everything instantly or with minimal effort. A lot of things are difficult and embracing it rather than running from it gives us a much greater chance at overcoming them. Walking gives us a better chance at doing that.

How do I start?

  1. Go outside.
  2. Walk somewhere.

More seriously, there are a few things that help.

  • If you unfortunately have reasons to think you might be unsafe, walk with someone and during the day. If not, walk alone.
  • Don’t use your phone.
  • Be mindful.
  • Find new places but don’t map your walk.
  • Walk without listening to music or audiobooks.

***

Walking is another source of peaceful solitude. I remember many times going for a walk at night and looking forward to seeing the moon in the sky. Some days it would dominate the night like a king seated in his throne. Other days, it would be quieter and hidden behind a few clouds. Walking outside without any purpose allowed me to appreciate that properly. Instead of being preoccupied with other things, I looked up and was mindful of my surroundings.

Free from distractions and consumed with peace.

And that is the purposeless walk.

 

 

What’s wrong with now?

The next time you catch yourself putting something off for ‘later’ try asking yourself the question: “what’s wrong with now?”

What’s happening right now that’s making me put the work off? Why can’t I do it now?

I find the value of this question comes in a few ways.

It makes us truly aware of what we’re actually doing. The spiralling of bad habits such as procrastination, binge-eating, excessive gaming/movie watching, are often born from mindlessness. Asking this question brings us back to the present moment and makes us aware.

We look at what we’re doing and honestly assess whether it’s more worthwhile than the other important task.

Say I’m watching something on Netflix and remember I have an essay to write, assessing my situation lets me understand that what I’m doing isn’t actually going to help in the short or long-term. I can put the show to the side and work on my essay instead. Most of the excuses we use often appear weak when we put a little bit of pressure on them. The movie can be paused, Reddit won’t shut down and we can save YouTube videos.

What happens when we face an excuse that actually has some strength behind it? At that point we can set priorities. If we’re doing something that we honestly feel takes priority, then we’re doing the most important task. Which is the main goal. After the first task is done, we can move onto the next without guilt.

Answering this question requires honesty but that mustn’t be mistaken for self-hatred or criticism. This isn’t a plea to fill all of your waking hours with meaningless work. In fact, I think that would be counter-productive. Resting after work or just taking a day off with friends can be the most important thing to do.

Now, deciding which task is genuinely the most important is slightly more difficult. However, that’s fine as it’s just something we have to wrestle with at times. Asking this question helps us start deciding what to do instead of getting lost in distraction and later being disappointed at the end of the day.

As with many things, taking advantage of the moment and overcoming your internal fear of starting (or finishing) a task requires practice. There are still times when I ask this question with another task in mind, answer it with ‘nothing’ and continue putting it off. However, it’s still a helpful question that’s made me more mindful of my desire to find procrastination and move onto more meaningful work.

Set priorities. Be honest. Be mindful.

Soon you’ll answer the question and find nothing is wrong with the present moment because you’re doing all you should and want to be doing.

Pigeons

I was waiting from my train after my mentoring session and saw two pigeons. I assumed they were just completing part of their daily routine.Walk around and look for food, fly around and look at a few sights, poop on people going to important interviews for good luck and entertain small children by flying away.

I saw them picking at two of bread crusts on the floor. They both seemed pretty enthusiastic so they must have been hungry.

Of the two pigeons, one was more aggressive than the other. Similar to David and Goliath but they were pigeons and David has no chance of winning the battle at all. I’ll call the dominant pigeon Goliath and the more submissive one, David.

Goliath had the bigger piece while David ate the smaller piece. Oddly enough, I smiled a lot at this fact even though it was bound to happen because pigeons aren’t known for their sharing.

However, something that struck me as more interesting was that they both had the same problems. David and Goliath both failed to keep control of their food. Every bite they took resulted in the food flying in the air for a brief second as they lifted their head to swallow the bread. Then they would walk around, nodding their heads, to find the piece of bread.

Goliath finished his food first and stole David’s piece. It looked like an armed robbery but that wouldn’t describe the power imbalance. David accepted his fate. He walked away, nodding his head, and began picking at smaller crumbs on the floor. He looked slightly dejected but the other pigeon didn’t care. He was clearly enjoying his food too much.

My train came and they started walking in opposite directions. Were they scared of being seen together? Possibly. I didn’t see them together after that. Goliath actually flew away to increase the distance between them. Perhaps it was a mistake to think they bonded over those two pieces of bread.

After all of that, I looked at my watch and saw that whole experience was only 5 minutes . I was one of two people at the train station but the only one laughing at pigeons eating food. The person next to me may have thought I was odd but that didn’t matter.

I was entertained by pigeons and that’s ok.

They enjoyed their food and I enjoyed my wait for the train.

Why am I writing about pigeons?

It was a very simple moment and allowed me to appreciate the beauty of living in the present.

A lot of small and surprisingly interesting things happen when you just observe your surroundings. If I battled the boredom-induced anxiety with my phone, I would have missed this! The David and Goliath of pigeons! Who would want to miss that? No one? Perfect answer.

Try living in the present sometime. It can be very relaxing.

A Very Short Guide to Meditation

This is a very short guide to mindfulness meditation. If you want a few reasons for why you should meditate, you can read my post: 5 reasons to start meditating

You will need:

  • Yourself
  • A timer
  • A comfortable place to sit

How to begin meditating:

  1. Sit down with your back straight (or lie down)
  2. Set the timer to two minutes
  3. Focus on your breathing

And that’s it.

You don’t need to get into a complicated lotus position. You don’t need to wait until the world is silent.

All you have to do is sit still and focus on your breathing. When a random thought pops into your head, gently bring your focus back to your breathing.

You’ll find it difficult at first. Your mind will race in many different directions simply because you aren’t used to slowing down for couple of minutes in the day but it will get easier. You only have to do it for 2 minutes. Then do it again the next day. Maybe in a week you’ll increase it to three minutes.

It’ll get easier and you’ll be able to meditate for a longer time. Then you’ll reap more benefits of meditating every day.

You’ll feel calm, relaxed and more mindful of the things you do.

Mindfulness is Beautiful

For my last post, I gave 5 reasons to start meditating and I want to focus on the last point I made about increased mindfulness.

Mindfulness is a beautiful thing.

A few days ago, I was drinking a hot chocolate after my lectures and I realised something wonderful. I was enjoying the drink.

I wasn’t thinking about what I wanted to do for the rest of the day.

I wasn’t self-conscious about being alone.

I wasn’t feeling sad because of the pain I was in.

I wasn’t reading anything or looking at pictures.

I was just enjoying a hot chocolate.

I was simply immersed in what I was doing in the present moment and loved the experience. I didn’t need to do anything else . This is something I hadn’t actively done until I began meditating.

Of course, this doesn’t need to be limited to drinking hot chocolate. When I’m talking to other people, I give them more of my attention. When I’m writing, I immerse myself with the ideas I’m trying to get onto the page. When I’m walking, I take in my surroundings instead of rushing to where I’m going.

Throughout the day, I feel that we don’t allow ourselves get properly immersed in the things we’re doing because we’re scared of being bored. Even when we’re walking, the desire to look at our phone becomes overwhelming. When we’re talking to other people, our attention seems to shoot off into a different direction.

The beauty of mindfulness comes from its simplicity. Experiencing what’s happening now instead of being a slave to superficial desires and distractions, allows us to experience what we’re doing with complete immersion. You don’t need to be doing something all the time. You’re allowed to spend time with your thoughts.

The experience of just being without external distractions or harmful self-criticism is something I wish I experienced more.

Being more mindful of the simple things you do everyday definitely takes practice. You’ll need to remind yourself many times to bring your focus back to what you’re doing. Sometimes you’ll be frustrated, other times you’ll feel experience small moments of happiness. You can do this by practising mindfulness meditation or making an active effort to focus on the small things you do everyday.

With this being said, go and enjoy your hot chocolate :)

Do you have any similar experiences you want to share?

***

1. The picture comes from dharmaschool.co.uk

5 Reasons to Start Meditating

I’ve been meditating for about 6 months now. It nearly skipped my mind because it feels like such a normal thing to do but I feel like I’ve learned a few important things during that time.

Here are 5 reasons to start meditating.

1. Increased Focus 

Staying focused on things can be difficult because we have to remind ourselves not to succumb to small distractions. That requires energy and it’s significantly easier to be distracted than ignore them.

While meditating, you aim to just focus on your breathing (at least the mindfulness approach to meditation). Meditating daily means that you’ll improve your ability to remain focused on one thing instead of following every thought that pops into your head.

I no longer feel the need to follow everything that pops into my head because I understand them for what they are. Small urges.

2. Less guilt

Noticing that you’ve failed to do something we think you should have done can result in a lot of self criticism. It can be extremely harmful to your overall well-being and difficult to stop. I’m still quite self critical. However, while meditating I don’t have those feelings at all.

It’s a beautiful moment. Even if it is brief.

When thoughts of inadequacy rush into your head, it’s tempting to follow them into an even darker train of thoughts. However, all you have to do is bring your focus gently back to your breathing. You’ll probably find it quite difficult to do but it gets much easier with time.

The practice is something you can do even when you aren’t meditating.

3. Less stress 

When we’re stressed, we’re often worried about things that we need to do in the future or there are too many things that are going on in the present moment. We feel overwhelmed and want it all to stop but we can’t make it stop.

Meditation is fantastic at reducing stress. When you meditate you’re just trying to focus on a single thing instead of allowing yourself get consumed with the various commitments you have. Taking a few deep breaths and slowing yourself down will let you approach the things you need to do with a clear mind.

4. Better posture

I have a bad back problem and tend to slouch a lot because of it. While the problem is far from being over, my posture has improved slightly. Both in front of the computer and while walking.

Meditation promotes a better posture because you need to be fairly alert. Eventually, good posture will become a habit. It’s improved my concentration and breathing is actually easier!

Remember, having a good posture does not mean keeping your back completely straight. That’d hurt more if you have upper back problems.

5. Increased mindfulness

When I think about my position before I start meditating and now, I’d say that meditating is a positive aspect in my life now.

However, the biggest influence it has had on my everyday living isn’t the act of sitting down and meditating. It’s how I go about my day.

I think about the things I’m doing instead of thinking about what it’ll do for the future. I savour meals and drinks more instead of rushing them for no good reason. I get completely involved in what I’m doing instead of continuously dividing my attention with unimportant things.

Ultimately, I actually feel like I’m experiencing the things I do instead of just doing them. That is what it’s like to live in the now.

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If you want to know how it felt after 1 month, you can read my last post on meditation. It’ll show you my experience when I first started. It can be quite frustrating but like anything else, it requires a bit of persistence to get used to!

I hope at least one of these reasons is a reason to begin meditating for at least 5 minutes a day.

If you already meditate, how would you convince someone else to begin? I’d love to hear your reasons! If you don’t, do you think you’ll try it?

1. You may ask why I didn’t do 6 reasons after 6 months to meditate. You may not. Either way, I don’t have an answer to your question.

2. If you feel like a peaceful person after reading this, you can share the peace by sharing this post.

3. I like meditation and will write more about it. If you want to keep updated on whatever I write, you should follow the blog. It’s easier than not laughing at any of my jokes.