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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 Skills that can Give Wings to your Career

Five Life Skills that can Give Wings to your Career

“Life skills” are defined as psychosocial abilities for adaptive and positive behaviour that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life. They are loosely grouped into three broad categories of skills: cognitive skills for analyzing and using information, personal skills for developing personal ability and managing oneself, and inter-personal skills for communicating and interacting effectively with others. Mastering these life skills will not only make you successful at work and life, but more importantly will make you immeasurably happier too!

Here are the five Golden Life Skills that have made my work and life a fascinating journey:

Life Skill #1: Listening – It’s not just about your auditory senses. That of course is the first step. But what makes a difference is how much of it you absorb. When in your first job, everything is new, everything is exhilarating and everything is exhausting. The learning curve is superbly steep. Listen, Observe and Absorb- the golden rules to internalizing your work. Listen with your entire being, hang on to every word being uttered, and in no time you would have mind mapped your role. But do remember that this is an on-going process to grow!

 “Every person in this life has something to teach me–and as soon as I accept that, I open myself to truly listening.”~Catherine Doucette

 Life Skill #2: Initiative – Go that extra mile to try out things, even if it is something you thought you could never do. Chances are that you will be treading on ambiguity and unknown territories all the time, since it’s your first job. So it would only do truckloads of good to say Yes, more than you say No. Take the plunge! Having taken innumerable head dives myself, I can tell you that the results are immensely gratifying!

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step”~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Life Skill #3: Relationship Building This is one of the key factors to convert your job into something that you look forward to, instead of viewing it just as work. Building personal connections with colleagues always adds that extra zing to your day and keeps the workspace stress free. And on days that are blue, these relationships help you sail through, keeping your productivity intact. They have the potential to last a life time too!

 “Remember, we all stumble, every one of us. That’s why it’s a comfort to go hand in hand.”~Emily Kimbrough

Life Skill #4: Resilience Since we are learning perpetually and alternating between baby steps and giant leaps, we are bound to falter. But, this is the nature of the game. Take a moment, pick yourself up and get going. You’ll only get better. Be it our work or relationships, when we bounce back, it’s always with renewed vigour to prove ourselves and shine. Keep moving.

“The bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you refuse to take the turn.”~Unknown

Life Skill #5: Giving Back– It is said that the more you give, the more you get back. When you give your 100% and more to your work, what you are also doing is expanding your own horizons to grasp more and thus in return adding value to yourself and your organization. This is an iterative process. Since my first job luckily has been in the social sector, I can see the direct results of my work in the smiles of the children I work with. It is a heavenly feeling.

“You make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give.”~ Unknown

Today’s guest post is by Nilisha Mohapatra.