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Five Steps that help me be Here and Now – Being Mindful and Happy In The Now

Five Steps that help me be Here and Now – Being Mindful and Happy In The Now


Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness~James Thurber

There are two things that the human mind loves indulging in – reminiscence (about the past) or planning (for the future). I often find myself thinking of what was or what could be. To reflect better, I write down my thoughts – a roadblock or problem I encountered, and possible ways of avoiding the same problem in the future or effective ways of dealing with it ahead. Not to say that there is anything wrong with that. In all probability this writing trend will continue because it is cathartic and insightful in action. But of late, what I’ve been finding increasingly refreshing and extremely perceptive, is being alive to the present. Being here and now.

I mainly have a thinking personality, and often get myself into a vicious cycle, where all my thoughts, feelings, memories and actions get into one big cluster. Needless to say, it ends up causing unnecessary distress. And from them on it’s a spiral of doing and undoing, coloured with hues of helplessness. Wanting to get out of this pattern, I decided to give in to the continuing wisdom of ‘being mindful’. Six months and still going strong, this decision has actually changed the way I am and continues to affect it positively. Now I know why it’s a fad!

How did I start my journey towards being more mindful and aware?

Here is my Modus Operandi to take control of my life and truly be Happy In the Now :

Step #1:  Refrain from complaining. Block the negativity– When we find ourselves in situations which do not turn out the way we want them to be, the most common behaviour we resort to is complaining about people, about life, about the world, about self! And all this does is feed the frustration and spread vibes of discontent, unhappiness and growing negativity. Little do we realize that we always have more constructive choices to exercise in such situations. What can we do?

  • Change the situation – If you know you can do something to change the situation or make it better, do it! Channelize the energy from complaining to action. Talk to someone who can turn it around for you – a friend, a colleague, your boss or a therapist! Speak out and act.
  • Accept it – Many a times some events are really beyond our control, or for that matter, anybody else. Like the loss of a loved one, a heartbreak or even a natural calamity. Yes, it is painful, distressing and it is difficult. But how is resistance and struggling to make this any better? Here acceptance is the way to finding inner peace. Accept your feelings, the turmoil and surrender to the moment. Let it wash over you like a wave, and slowly yet gradually watch yourself gain your footing back. As I always say, let life unfold.
  • Remove yourself from the situation – In our quest to support others, be with someone or for our own good, we walk into situations which later turn out to be unfavourable. If you find yourself in such a state and you know you can extract yourself from this cluster, do so. Exercise the choice of getting out of a scene if you know you can.  This will give you breathing space and also time to think straight. Be assertive.

Step #2: Observe yourself. Look within – Thinking of the past or the future, we all are bound to experience a myriad of emotions. Some which we may favour and some we may not. When you find yourself getting into a pattern of nostalgia or self-blame/doubt, step back from the thought. When I say step back, I mean stop engaging yourself in first person for the given situation. Look at the thought, understand what emotions and feelings you experience due to this. Is it a knot in the chest? Dry throat? Feel physically angry or drained? Notice all these happenings. See why this is happening. Don’t judge yourself. Don’t label the emotions as bad or good. Be objective. Understand. Observe yourself as a bystander and detach yourself from the experience. Easier said than done, this requires practice. But gradually you’ll see your past affecting you lesser each day. This is a very potent form of meditation as well. Watch this TED Talk to understand this better: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzR62JJCMBQ

Step #3: Count your blessings – We usually use our present as a means to get to our future. We rarely understand that what we have right now is much more powerful than what could be. To enjoy the present, to enjoy what you have, count your blessings for the day or the week or even for the moment. Make a list of things that you are thankful for. Feel the gratitude. Really appreciate each and everything that is working for you. You can even put up this list at a place where you can glance at it frequently and feel good about it. You don’t need to be in significant distress to do this exercise. Do it just to feel good, feel blessed. And remember, that your list can change with time. Keep it short, to about 6-7 things which you can recall anywhere, anytime.

Step #4: Pick up positive vibes – When you feel yourself slumping, and are unable to pull yourself out of it, connect with people who induce an instant dose of positivity in you. I am not talking about a motivational speech here. Talk to people who appreciate you and are thankful for what they have. Or watch inspiring TED Talks, read your favourite piece of literature. My favourite reading piece is ‘Oh! The places you’ll go by Dr. Seuss.’ Find anything that reinforces your zest for life. Never believe that misery needs company. If you can’t think of anything, come back and read this post! Make the moment you have, shine.

 Step #5: Have a Mantra – Being mindful is not easy. Changing ourselves is not easy. And it’s perfectly alright to fall back on these techniques. I always believe that failing once in a while is good. That way you’ll know what you shouldn’t do. To be present in the moment, have one or two mantras which can constantly remind you of your initiatives. Something that can get you back on track if you happen to derail. The couple I use are,

  • Keep Calm and Be Patient. It’ll be just Fine.”
  • You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes,
    You can steer yourself in any direction you choose”

These give me an instant dose of energy and brings me back to my present, when my mind gets caught in the past or the future.  Stick your mantra in a place where you can see it, and watch the magic unfold.

Why to make ‘right now’ the best time of your life?
Well, what you do right now is what defines what happens next. Sow well now, to reap beautifully soon after.

As Lao Tzu says,

Wisdom For the Journey

Always we hope
someone else has the answer.
some other place will be better,
some other time it will all turn out.

This is it.
no one else has the answer.
no other place will be better,
and it has already turned out.

At the center of your being
you have the answer;
you know who you are
and you know what you want.

There is no need
to run outside
for better seeing.

Nor to peer from a window.
Rather abide at the center of your being;
for the more you leave it, the less you learn.

Search your heart
and see
the way to do
is to be.

– Lao Tzu

After the last few work-related posts, it was time to bring back the “Happy In the Now” theme and I invited Nilisha Mohapatra to write today’s wonderful piece. Nilisha is a Post Graduate in Applied Psychology, and is a trainer for Transformational Programming and Life Skills development.

We would love to hear back from you – what steps do you use to be mindful ? What helps you de-stress ? Please share your secrets and stories.

Pic Courtesy by Bill Watterson  – http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/

More in The Happy In The Now series  :

Five Ways to Ride the Waves of Change – Make the Best of Every Situation to be Happy In The Now
Five Strategies to be Happy in the Face of All Odds
Five Mood-Killers that Stop you from being Happy in the Now
Five Strategies for Staying Ahead and Aware – Happy In The Now
Five Hidden Blessings in Adversity
Five Life Lessons from the past year – and here is hoping that I learned them well – Happy in The Now
Five Life Lessons from the past year – and here is hoping that I learned them well – Happy in The Now

Five Life Lessons from the past year – and here is hoping that I learned them well – Happy in The Now

And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.

― Haruki Murakam

A very Happy New Year to all my readers. This is my first post for the year (and the fiftieth post since I started this blog around a year back – whew!). Life has a way of teaching us its lessons sometimes in a gentle and sometimes in a harsh way. The past year has been stormy in more ways than one for many of us. And as Haruki Murakam said so rightly, we are not the same people we were same time last year. This post is a sum up of the five top insights/learning that got reinforced for me through the past year. I hope that these resonate with you as well and that you will write back to me on what you learned too.

Life Lesson #1: Miracles do happen – Don’t dismiss the moments of magic in your life as coincidences; they are indeed the miracles that you have consciously or sub-consciously prayed for. I have written about my mom’s medical challenges earlier – kidneys gone, iffy heart, multiple strokes, paralysis, speech loss – you name it and she has had it over the past year. Giving up was not an option for her and us even though everybody else almost had. My family and I were blessed to witness the miracle of her come-back to a life of dignity. I now know for sure that yes, miracles can happen – yes, they do – all it takes is a lot of faith, courage and patience.

Life Lesson #2: Choose your relationships with careLife is too short to waste on relationships that suck the energy out of you. Be it at work or at home, opt out of the relationships that take more than give, that withdraw in your times of need and that can’t withstand a bit of wear and tear. You CAN change your environment if you can’t be happy in it. There is a whole world of great people out there waiting for you to reach out – drop the negatives around you and connect to the positive. Who you know has become as important if not more as what you know – choose carefully your co-passengers in the journey of life.

Life Lesson #3: You ALWAYS have a choice – There is a big difference between accepting your fate/destiny/whatever you call it and being resigned to it. It is only when life is embraced in its totality, only when we live in the heights, depths and surfaces can we learn that we can immerse ourselves in the joys and also endure the suffering that is always near by. There is no good answer to “why me?” or “what have I done to deserve this?”.  Instead face each day with the confidence that you can handle everything that life throws at you and get better at “handling” with each passing day.

Life Lesson # 4: If you can’t fly then run – If you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward. Martin Luther King said this and he also said that the time is always right to do the right thing…. The full meaning of these quotes hit me this year in many ways both through my experiences (quit my job and went solo) and of those around me. If you believe in something, trust your instincts and just go for it – a path will open up in front of you step by step, effort by effort.

Life Lesson # 5: The moments are all we have – make the most of it – This is a reinforcement of my “Happy in the Now” philosophy that I have followed for the last year and now I can report confidently that it works, it really does 🙂 The past year has been the happiest year in my life in spite of everything and not because I did anything extraordinary – it is just that I learnt to be conscious of and savour every moment. In the “busy” ness of life, it is so easy to lose track of the moments that make up time. It helps to stop, take a deep breath and be aware of the now – be content.

Sometimes the greatest wisdom is hidden in the simplest of things. The thoughts above may seem like a bunch of platitudes but in the past year, I had some Eureka moments which taught me the meaning behind these platitudes. What common wisdom triggered an uncommon moment for you in the past year? What lesson did life teach YOU that you hope you have learned well? I would love to share in your experiences.

A BIG thank you to all my readers for your support in the past year. Without you, this blog would have died long back.

Pic Courtesy : http://www.flickr.com/photos/stuckincustoms/3155662908/