3 Habits of Mind Maestros (365 Days of Spirited Living – DAY 219)
“You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace.”
— Frank McCourt
Many of us spend a good deal of time and a good amount of energy and even money taking care of our physical selves. We get lifts, tans, enhancements, contouring, rejuvenation, and tucks all in an attempt to make us feel better and look our best. The body is a terrible thing to waste but there is something else that is equally as important. And that’s the mind.
Less attention and time, as well as energy and money for that matter, is spent on the mind. When we’re under stress, we tend to do things to make us feel physically better when really we should be paying attention to what’s going on in our heads. Taking care of the mind can come as a second thought or feel like it’s out of our control. But really, it’s the one thing we can control.
Here are three habits of people who master their minds to produce a wonderful life:
1. Build a positive and meaningful routine.
Developing good habits is one of the most beneficial ways to putting your mind on the right track. At one point, good behavior may have been challenging, but if you stick with it, over time it becomes more automatic, engaging, and even fun. It also becomes more difficult to break such good habits when you get use to doing it every single day. The results outweigh any pain you must endure.
Tony Schwartz, the author of “Be Excellent At Anything” said, “For the things that you decide matter…the only way to ensure that things that aren’t urgent but are important happen is to build rituals. Build highly specific behaviors that you do at precise times over and over again until you don’t have to use energy to get yourself to do it anymore—until it becomes as automatic as brushing your teeth at night.”
2. Set priorities, everything else is secondary.
We only have a limited amount of energy, time, and willpower. The best way to use all of that to be effective in any area of life is to set priorities. Without priorities, the mind becomes a cluttered playpen where anything and everything goes. Setting priorities ensures that we actually spend our time doing the things that mean something to us.
Leo Babuata, the creator of the popular site ZenHabits, said, “Living a life of smart priorities is one of the best ways to become much more effective, to make the most of your time and reach your goals with less effort…priorities are not what you say they are—they’re what you actually do.”
3. Focus on what makes you productive and positive.
It is easy for most of us to focus our thoughts on what is going wrong or how bad of a day we’re having. Multiple studies show however that what we focus on will control our behavior and can affect our outlook. The key is to choose to focus our brains on what gets us excited and makes us happy. It can be the smell of coffee brewing, the smile of a baby, or even your work. Focusing on the positive moments in our lives can help us decrease the “negativity effect” that causes us to process more negative interactions than positive ones. Furthermore, those positive points will replicate as we keep the focus on them.
Neuropsychologist and New York Times besetting author, Rick Hanson, supports this idea. He said, “There’s an expression in neuroscience: Neurons that fire together wire together. This means that new patterns of thought can actually change the physiology of our brains. So while we can’t ignore bad news, we can train our brains to become more alert to good information. When you notice a positive detail in yourself or someone else, or in your environment, try savoring it for at least ten seconds. Most of these observations will be as simple as ‘the sun is shining’ or ‘this coffee tastes good,’ but do this a handful of times each day and you’ll feel an emotional shift.”
“I am not absentminded. It is the presence of mind that makes me unaware of everything else.”
— G.K. Chesterton