3 Extra Habits of Mind Maestros (365 Days of Spirited Living – DAY 221)
“Failing to understand the workings of one’s own mind is bound to lead to unhappiness.”
— Marcus Aurelius
The mind is the thinking tool that you use for many different things every second of every single day. Whether you know it or not, there is never a day that you do not use your mind in connection with your daily life. This is why you must have control over it. You must be able to focus your mind on what you do, think, and say so that other areas of your life will not evade control.
Make your mind obedient to your commands instead of you being obedient to what the mind deems as what is right. You owe it to your life to control the contents and the direction of your mind. We might not be born with the ability to focus, but by developing and following daily habits, we can become the maestros of our mind and eventually our life.
Here are three habits of people who master their minds to produce a wonderful life:
1. The mind is smarter than you think.
Your mind is smart but it doesn’t get as much credit as it deserves. It isn’t smart in the sense that it gives wise advice all the time. But it is smart in that it tends to be attracted to facts. Your mind will give you inclinations. For example, you may tell yourself you need to call up an old friend after seeing his update on social media. But then your mind pipes in and tells you something like, what if his number is outdated or what if he doesn’t remember you. How many times have you followed a suggestion from your mind and found that the mind was wrong? The mind has a way of trying to control your life, but it isn’t always right.
“The value we attribute to people and things isn’t always an accurate reflection of the value they can offer us, particularly when we’re looking for answers to avoid the pain of acknowledging there aren’t any,” Lori Deschene, founder of the popular self-help site, TinyBuddha.com. said. “At the end of the day, we need to know when we know all we can, and then we need to act and own that choice.”
2. Rewire your brain by practicing meditation.
Meditation is a practice that has been around for ages and is probably the single most tool you have for understanding and controlling your mind. Most of us don’t take the time to think about what is going on in our heads. We just follow what it says like an automated machine. However choosing to become more aware of your thoughts and setting aside time to process those things can help you obtain more flexibility in making decisions and freedom from stress. Additionally, over the past few years, research has found that meditation can improve cognition and increase neuroplasticity.
Britta Hölzel, a research fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital and Giessen University in Germany said, “It is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life.”
3. Pursue purpose and overall meaning in life.
Pursuing purpose is not the same things as pursuing work. Everyone must work but not everyone finds their work meaningful and fulfilling. For most people, work is something that must be gotten out of the way in order for them to find pleasure in some way. But for people who have found their place in the world, their purpose is their pleasure. It brings them great joy. Research finds that those who have eudaimonic happiness, an idea of Aristotle which is associated with having a purpose bigger than one’s self, possess positive gene activity. On the other hand, those who strive after hedonic happiness, which is associated with gaining pleasure for one’s self, possess lower gene activity.
Barbara L. Fredrickson, Kenan Distinguished Professor of psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, researched how the human body differentiates between the hedonic and the eudaimonic happiness on the level of molecules. She said, “We can make ourselves happy through simple pleasures, but those ’empty calories’ don’t help us broaden our awareness or build our capacity in ways that benefit us physically. At the cellular level, our bodies appear to respond better to a different kind of well-being, one based on a sense of connectedness and purpose.”
“The country would be far better if the population were half as interested in keeping their minds in as good condition as they tried to keep their bodies.”
— John Saul