How to live mindfully

What is mindful living and why does it make you happier and more productive?

Living mindfully means being present in the here and now. This sounds very easy, but it’s quite difficult. If you focus on your thoughts, you’ll soon notice that you’re either rethinking the past or worrying about the future. With mindful living, we can find a balance between those two. It’s important to acknowledge that we learn a lot from the past and we also want to work on our goals for a better future. However, if we only focus on the future, we postpone our happiness for after we reach those achievements. For example, you have to finish a project at work and feel like you have to make offers now. You decide that after you’ve finished this project you will feel happy. Or you are studying and only focus on passing your exams. You can’t have fun, because you need to study hard, but you think that after you’ve passed your exams you will be happy.

This seems smart, but eventually, when you’ve gotten to the finish line, you won’t feel happy. Why doesn’t it make us feel happy when we reach this goal? The reason is that we fell into the trap of living a goal-oriented life. Every time we finish something, we set an even bigger goal and every time we postpone our happiness and freedom. This means that if you only think about the goal, you can’t be happy now.

If we only live a goal-oriented life, it means that when we don’t reach that goal, all our work was for nothing. I experienced this myself when I was trying to make a video. I had been working on it all day long, but during the editing, I noticed that it just wasn’t what I wanted it to be. I decided that I should film it again the next day. Because I was goal-oriented, I felt that I hadn’t been productive that day and I felt quite frustrated, but when I called my sister, she told me that it’s not always about the goal. I did a lot that day, I learned what I didn’t want my videos to look like and this way I gained experience! My lesson for that day was that life is about the journey, gaining experience and enjoying the progress.

Therefore living mindfully is very important for our mental wellbeing. If we live mindfully, failing doesn’t exist, only learning and developing ourselves. Besides, being present in the moment can also make us more productive, because instead of thinking about one big scary goal, we focus on the small steps we can take today. This has many benefits: we tend to have less stress, it’s easier to concentrate and we also experience more joy and creativity.

In conclusion, living mindfully is the key to being happy and successful!

The advantages of Journaling

If you ask successful people how they achieve their goals, chances are that they’ll advise you to keep a journal. While it may seem silly, or time-consuming, it has many advantages.

The truth is that I felt quite unsure about journaling for a long time. I had been working on my productivity and motivation for years and I often read that journaling daily should be part of that journey, but I just didn’t seem to have time for it. Only recently I decided to put my notebook to good use and I started journaling once a week. Somehow I got so motivated along the way that I journal every day now! Anyone can find time to journal once a week, right?

What is so special about writing things down in a notebook and how can it help you?

Well, first of all, you can use journaling for remembering your good ideas. When we write things down, we can always read them back. Research shows that we have between 60.000 and 80.000 thoughts a day. If some of those thoughts are any good, you should probably write them down before your mind gets filled with new thoughts. Our brains are constantly searching for new information, and that’s why we get distracted all the time. Therefore, it’s simply impossible to remember all our good ideas.

Secondly, you can use journaling for accountability. Writing down goals and plans on paper makes us more likely to do those things. Somehow the fact that it is written on paper makes it feel like an obligation. If we check our notebook and see we didn’t reach our goals, we feel guilty. On the other hand, if we only set the goal in our mind, it’s easy to get distracted again and forget about the goals we set in the first place. Besides, by writing down our goals we can easily keep track of our progress. It’s very motivating to see how we’ve grown when we look back at the goals we’ve already reached. This motivation keeps us going and inspires us to set more goals.

Lastly, you can use journaling to feel more grateful. If you write down the things that went well after a long day, you will focus more on those good things. It’s very easy to lose our minds in negative thinking, that’s why practising gratitude is so important. Believe it or not, but focussing on the good stuff makes you attract more good stuff. Just give it a try!

Let me know in the comments if you have more journal tips. Also, if you got enthusiastic after reading this, get yourself a notebook and start today!

How to plan sufficiently and pursue your dreams

Everyone has dreams, but many of us see them as not realistic. Like a very high mountaintop, they seem unreachable – only the very strong and brave ones can climb the Mount Everest. What if I tell you that that isn’t true? Everyone can climb that mountaintop, only it’s not possible to do it in one day. You will need preparation, training, belief in yourself and a lot of motivation. It might take you days or years, but it’s definitely possible.

So if you want to work on making your dreams become reality, start planning! Get your notebook ready and take the following steps:

What is your dream?

Ask yourself the following question: ‘What would I do if I couldn’t fail?’ I came across this question and it’s eye-opening how we often don’t see our real dreams as an option.

So, write down your real dream. Think big and, but also consider the details. For example, ´I am going to have a very successful business´ is an amazing goal, but it’s unclear and this makes it difficult to make it a reality. Instead, if you want to start a business, think about what you want to sell, to whom and where etc.

If you can’t choose a fixed goal, you can start with a brainstorm and from there choose a goal for this month and then for the next month etc. It is also possible to choose to work on several goals at the same time and plan in how much time you will spend on this goal every day or week. I recommend you to not choose more than 3 goals, because you’ll risk doing everything half and not succeeding.

Turn ideas into action

Maybe your dream seems very big and unreachable, but what if you dedicate 1 hour a day or a few hours a week to that dream for one year? The chances of realizing your dream are getting bigger and bigger. Therefore, try to move forward each week, doing small tasks that lead you to your goal. To set up your business or get that job, what do you have to do in three months, in one month and a week? Divide your big goal into manageable smaller goals.

Which actions do you have to take each consistently to get closer to your goal? Break them down into small steps that are achievable in for example one hour. Find your rhythm and decide whether you want to spend an hour a day on your goals, maybe two evenings a week or one whole day a week. Write down a checkmark in your agenda just after you finish your tasks. This way you can track your progress. If spending an hour is difficult at the beginning, promise to do 15 minutes every time and write down your checkmark. These small wins keep you motivated.

Evaluate

Don’t forget to evaluate your progress and keep on planning. Every Sunday night you can evaluate how the week has gone and decide which steps you want to take next week. You can use a diary, an agenda or a planner, but make sure to be organised. Also, sometimes things don’t go as expected and maybe you won’t succeed immediately. Be grateful for everything that comes on your path and see your journey as a chance to learn a lot. Every obstacle you overcome gives you more experience and makes you stronger.

Keep in mind that everyone has bad days. Don’t beat yourself up when you didn’t reach your goal for that week. Do try to stay motivated and think about why you want to make your dream reality. Whatever happens, keep on working on pursuing your dream. The world needs your talents and knowledge!

How to be strong in difficult times

How can we stay strong in difficult times? At the moment our countries are going through a crisis. The coronavirus is spreading quickly and many people are struggling. It is very easy to get swept away in all the bad news. Of course, we feel sad for people who got sick or even passed away and we are also worried something bad will happen to us or our loved ones. However, this mindset won’t get us far. If we feel sad and afraid all day, we won’t have the energy for work, studies and other important things.

On the other hand, in our society not caring about others is perceived as egocentric or even cold. We believe that it makes you a better person if you have mercy for everyone who is having a difficult time, but this is not entirely true. Having empathy (identifying with others and sharing their feelings) does make you a nicer person – being empathic leads to having better relationships and therefore more satisfaction in life. However, empathy appears in three phases and the most important phase is the one where we go on with our lives.

In the first phase of empathy, people identify with the other; we notice the other person’s feelings. Secondly, we go through the phase of incorporation and resonance, which means that we feel what the other is feeling. The third and most important is the separation phase: we cut ourselves loose from the other person and continue our life. Many people forget this phase and they carry the sadness and worry of many people with them, which can cause burnouts or emotional fatigue.

It is not egoistic to forget about other people’s problems for a while. It is very important to go back to our own feelings and save energy. We need to take care of ourselves first. This way, we can spend our energy on our work, hobbies and development. We will grow and gain more energy, so when another friend needs our help, we can be there for them. If you are feeling sad for everyone who suffers and another person asks for your help, you won’t be able to listen to them because you already feel drained. So eventually, not going through the separation phase results in helping fewer people.

Imagine what the doctors go through in these difficult times. If they go home and feel sad for all the sick people, they will feel tired the next day and can’t do their work well. On the contrary, if the doctors go home and forget about the situation, they can relax with their family and have a good night of sleep. As a result, they will have more energy the next day and they can dedicate fully to their work. This is why being egoistic is often a healthy thing to do.

So, how exactly can we become stronger and take a break from the suffering? To begin with, we can learn how to accept the things we can’t change. Many things simply don’t lie within our power. For example, in today’s situation, we can’t heal millions of people. What we can do, is to socially distance ourselves to prevent the coronavirus from spreading. The next thing we can do is choosing what we pay our attention to. Try to be grateful for the things that are going well and think positive! Maybe you can make a nice dinner and play games with your family to relax a little. This way you will have more energy later to help out others. Thus, in these difficult times, we have to be a little ‘egoistic’ first. It’s our responsibility and our duty to focus on the good stuff and to not lose our energy