“You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
—Marcus Aurelius, Ancient Roman Emperor and Philosopher
Image from Unsplash by Ümit Bulut
What does it mean to have power over our minds?
If you have ever tried to meditate, you know that this can be a daunting challenge at first. Focusing on something as apparently simple as our breath, a physical sensation, or even a sound in the distance seems to go sideways in seconds.
Marcus Aurelius would probably suggest that instead of powering through our ever-bouncing thoughts, we begin playing with them like a child by simply noticing them and where they take us.
With this initial awareness, we can begin developing our mental muscle and strengthen our capacity to focus its power.
What are your preferred approaches to stretch and strengthen your mental muscles?
On what topics and in what ways can you improve your ability to concentrate and focus its power to influence your world?
Separate your notions from your emotions.
—Calm App Reflection
Image from Unsplash by Uday Mittal
Ever found yourself upset by every little thing going on in your life? Times when the smallest details of your days grate on you and trigger levels of annoyance that feel well out of proportion?
Perhaps your mighty mind is actually making mountains out of molehills! Your power to interpret life’s events and other people’s motives have gone to the dark side, and you start playing the victim.
Where are your notions stirring up your emotions?
How might some buffer space between stimulus and response — and a bigger helping of objectivity — help settle your nerves?
“Be careful not to let the noise in your mind overpower the whispers of your heart.”
—Cory Muscara, international speaker and teacher on mindfulness and positive psychology
Image from Unsplash by Nick Fewings
As a child I was fearful of going to the doctor. The unfamiliar surroundings, the strange smells, and the anticipation of getting a shot from the scary nurse was something to dread.
Doctor Wiederman was always kind and gentle, with a reassuring voice. On one visit, he let me use his stethoscope to listen to my heartbeat. This pulsing sound seemed to let me know that everything was OK and that he and his staff were only there to keep me healthy.
As I’ve gotten older, my perspective on my heart has expanded from a blood pumping organ to the source of my soul. Taking the time to be quiet and listening to its messages is something we can all practice daily.
Where and when do you take the time to listen to the whispers of your heart?
How can you quiet the noisy voices of your mind to embrace this inner wisdom?
“If your mind were a suitcase and could only hold five things, what would they be?”
Image from Unsplash by Amy Shamblen
About 10 years ago we bought a set of luggage from a local warehouse store. It was a good value, the right color and the set of three pieces conveniently fit inside one another for easy storage. This was actually a second set and we justified it because we packed heavy for some longer trips to address all contingencies, and our desire to not use unfamiliar laundry facilities.
Prior to our recent move from Michigan to Pennsylvania we amusingly donated more than two thirds of our luggage and about a third of our possessions, realizing that traveling lighter had many advantages.
Keeping our most essential items was a step in the right direction to reduce both our physical and mental loads.
What size mental suitcase are you carrying around? What are the five most important things packed inside? A small backpack may actually be all you need.
“The mind is like the stomach. It is not how much you put into it that counts, but how much it digests.”
Albert J. Nock, 20th Century American Libertarian Author
Image from Unsplash by Debbie Molle
Did you know that a panda’s daily diet consists almost entirely of the leaves, stems, and shoots of various bamboo species? Bamboo contains very little nutritional value so pandas must eat 12-38 kilograms – that is, 26-83 pounds – every day to meet their energy needs. With this volume pandas can spend up to 14 hours a day eating.
What are you feeding your mind each day? How much nutrient-rich super foods for your mind do you ingest and digest? Alternatively, how much junk food – including forms of media – are coming your way, creating malnutrition of the mind?
Given the phrase “you are what you eat,” how can and will you be a far better dietician / nutritionist for your mind to lead a healthier, more optimal life?
“The test and use of man’s education is that he finds pleasure in the exercise of his mind.”
—Jacques Barzun, 20th Century French-American Historian
Image from Unsplash by Ben White
Perhaps nothing brings us more satisfaction on a daily basis than getting things done. Whether it is building something tangible, solving a challenging problem, or simply making a significant difference in the lives of others, we all need this fix to be pleased with ourselves.
It is likely our need to be useful and make a contribution to those around us that gives our lives meaning.
I have also noticed that most of my coaching clients enjoy exercising their minds, and find considerable enjoyment through continuous learning, which often leads to getting bigger and more significant things done.
Where and in what ways would greater exercise and stretching of your mind provide you the added pleasure of testing yourself, allowing you to get more done and making a bigger difference in your worlds?