We all have off days. Today, I woke up with every intention to follow my to-do list and have a productive day. But, after my meetings ended around 1 PM – I found myself feeling off. I felt a bit anxious and worried. I did not want to do the things I had planned to complete that day. Instead, I ended up eating, watching YouTube, and scrolling through Instagram. This, in turn, made my anxiety even worse. I then forced myself to stop scrolling and take a nap. I napped for a good 2 hours and woke up feeling a bit better. Sometimes, we need to turn the mental windmill off by sleeping and that is exactly what I ended up doing. After I woke up, I did things that I had neglected to do in the morning: I read my Daily Stoic prompt of the day, I journaled a bit, and I studied for 1 and a half hours like I had planned. I wasn’t able to finish all my to-do list by a certain time but, I felt good that I had fulfilled the promises I made to myself. This I have realized is crucial – the more promises that you keep that you make to yourself, the higher your confidence grows. You cannot trust yourself to do great things if you cannot trust yourself to do the small things in life. This is why the completed task felt so good to me – I had promised myself something & I did it!
There is a great YouTuber who makes songs for each Enneagram types. I am a type 9. If you don’t know much about Enneagrams, you can take a quiz here: https://www.truity.com/test/enneagram-personality-test. There is a great line in the song about 9’s that says “I have been sleepwalking since I was fourteen”. This line always gets to me because that is exactly how I feel. I am 27 now and I feel like most of my life has been me sleepwalking through it. My memories are foggy and unclear. I cannot remember a time I had clarity with a situation or pursued a goal because it was truly my own desire or idea. 9’s tend to please others and I feel like I lived up to the world’s idea of who I should be. I am slowly starting to get in touch with who I am. It feels like I am finally melting through a frozen box around my heart that I installed myself.
Maybe one day I will get to know who I am and what I desire truly. But, for now, I am letting myself make small decisions that help me get there. How do I start sleepwalking through life? The first step, to me, seems to be by figuring out what I want.
What do I desire in my life? What goals do I have that I want to reach? How can I use intention and action to get there? I don’t have the answers to these questions but, I will keep asking them to remind myself of who or what I want to become.
Take time today to ask yourself what YOU want.
The dread of not completing something can get so intense that we find ourselves unable to act. We freeze because, acting on it can seem too overwhelming. Let’s say you made a promise to yourself that you’ll study for 2 hours every day. One day, you have too much work and do not have 2 hours needed to study. You can let this change in schedule set you back often leading to self-judgement, guilt, and lack of self-trust. Or, we can take some time, guilt-free, to study. Instead of studying for the whole 2 hours, we can study for 30 minutes and still make compounding impact to our goals. The 30 minutes of work can help reassure your confidence & make you proud of yourself.
Take time today to make incremental progress. It doesn’t have to be for that long – just 30 minutes, 20 minutes, or 10 minutes.
Happiness is a topic that everyone has tried to tackle in history. Jesus Christ, Buddha, Seneca, Aristotle and every remarkable person has attempted to find the key to happiness. I am not a philosopher or related to the Lord so, I don’t have an actual key or an answer that leads to happiness.
One thing I know is that we can control what we do to increase joy. What actions brings you happiness? For me, I get joy from nature (put me by a lake or an ocean and I am a happy woman), writing in my journal and reflecting, praying, and making progress on my goals. When I set time aside to do these things, I am more joyful. I notice that I am more available to others. I feel a sense of purpose. When I haven’t done these things, I am more selfish with my time and more resentful.
Write down a list of things that bring you happiness. Try to eliminate anything that brings instant gratification (i.e. social media, television, YouTube etc) and include things where you are in full control (i.e. going for a walk, writing, journaling etc). Try to do these things every single day and see if you feel better.
Take control of your happiness. Take small actions everyday to increase your joy and purpose.
When we are buried in our problems, it seems like there is no way out. We may be tempted to put on a face, to appear brave, and to want to handle it all ourselves. I have been there. I am a proud person and it is very difficult for me to ask for help. As I get older, I realize how much of a weakness that is. I pride myself on my independence but, sometimes – we all need a helping hand. When you’re buried neck deep in stuff, ask for help. Speak up about your circumstance so God can provide you a way out! Oftentimes, our ways out are in people. People who have seen our work, people who can vouch for our character… people who are placed in your path for a reason. Ask ask ask like the answer will always be a YES.
Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you shall find. Knock, and the door shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives.
I am not the type of person that is surrounded by friends. I am a self-proclaimed introvert. I like my own space and I live according to my own means and often in my own world. I have no problem spending time alone. But, I am also a human being. Human beings thrive in friendships, social circles, and a community. Although, my nature is to be an introvert – as human beings we’re naturally designed to seek social support. This means that no matter how comfortable we’re on our own, our brains can actually benefit from friendships! Friendships and kinship brings us joy, comfort, and even good health. It also gives us the opportunity to care for, listen to, and spend time with others.
Take a solitary activity that you like to do, like drinking coffee, and ask a friend to join you tomorrow (even virtually through Zoom). The conversation and togetherness is guaranteed to bring you joy. If you don’t currently have a friend (trust me, I have been there many times) – try a sibling, parent, or even a pet. Anyone will do!
Take time to enjoy those around you.
How many of us have felt anxiety on a Monday morning? The creeping sense of dread amplified by procrastination and work we put off last week is debilitating and paralyzing. I have found myself in this position countless times in my life. I procrastinate on things that may take me 10 minutes to complete and find myself filled with dread for hours and sometimes days over that 10 minutes of work. Currently, I have been procrastinating on studying for a certificate at work. I put it off for so long that even thinking about it paralyzes me and fills me with dread. This dread will continue to consume me until I take action. Yesterday, I chose to take action. I put aside my emotions and started studying. 10 minutes passed which turned to 30 minutes and turned to 2 hours. The monster of work that was in front of me now felt manageable.
Sometimes, what relieves anxiety and dread is to take the first step and do the work. Once we get past our emotions of fear, anxiousness, worry, and regret – we can start working. Once we begin, the anxiety minimizes and the dread disappears. Only through action is this possible.
Override your emotions of dread and take the first step towards a project today! Do the work no matter how fearful or anxious you are.
Do you ever feel foggy in your mind? You have a million things running in your head and you feel a sense of not being present or lacking clarity?
I feel this way a lot of times. I am the type of person that needs constant stimulation in my brain. I am comfortable when there is a podcast, YouTube video, or music playing in the background at all times. This habit is so extreme that I never spend more than 30 minutes in silence (which feels horrifying to admit). Even my showers are occupied with podcasts in the background and my cooking is supplemented by a good Netflix binge. Although, this can be momentarily gratifying – it is terrible for my brain and my mental health. It makes me feel foggy and distracted. It also makes me feel like I have no free time (scrolling in social media and watching content eats away at my time). It turns out I am not the only one that has this issue. Talking to my sister and my friends, I noticed a lot of us are addicted to our distractions. We cannot turn away from our phones for too long without reaching for it again and again.
This is way, I decided to do a dopamine detox. Dopamine detox or a fast is a day where you do not have access to anything that brings instant gratification: social media, content (Netflix, YouTube, etc), television, porn, alcohol, drugs, etc. It allows for certain things such as journaling, reading, and walking.
I personally allowed myself these things: I can write for this blog, I can journal for myself, I can eat healthy foods, I can study and work, and I can talk to friends and family.
I feel a sense of clarity that I haven’t felt in a long time. I actually feel like I have free time rather than just letting the day get away from me. In moments where I have been tempted to reach for my phone out of habit, I have been just staying still or writing in my journal. It has been a really great experience so far but, it has also made me realize how many hours I spend on mindless activities.
If you can, please do a dopamine detox for one day. The clarity you will feel will be worth the efforts.
Be comfortable with silence.
Sometimes, I find myself comparing my life to others from my friends, coworkers, to complete strangers on the internet. I often compare the milestones in my life to theirs. I worry that I am not measuring up or I am not “good enough”. As unproductive as this thought pattern is, it is also very human. We measure things by putting two things together (is school A better than school B, is house A better than house C…etc). We have used this skill to make decisions all our lives but, we deter when we apply this to human beings (especially ourselves). Comparison goes against the very essence of being human. Our creator designed us all to be unique with unique souls, desires, and ideas. The notion that we’re going to have similar paths to others is not fruitful or helpful. Take today to thank our creator for making you unique! Do not rob yourself of joy by comparing yourself to others.
Be joyous that you were made unique. Do not let comparison steal your joy.
“Son of Kunti, the touches of the senses, bringing pain and pleasure, heat and cold: they come and go, and they don’t last forever, You must try to endure them”
The Bhagvad Gita, 2:14
What in your life is causing pain? Is it a physical pain that you can feel in your senses or is it an emotional pain that you feel in the heart? No matter what pain you’re feeling, the Lord wants you to know that the pain is only temporary. Our physical state, as real as it feels to us, is only a fraction of who we are. The pain we’re going through whether it be job loss, failure in education, or heartbreak are all temporary experiences of being a human being. Our soul transcends all pain and this sloka lets you know that all pain in the human form is temporary. It does not say that the pain is not real or that it doesn’t exist. The pain exists. It is so real. It is the ache in your feet and it’s the burden you carry in your heart. It is real but it is not the end. You have all the strength and knowledge within you to endure this pain over and over all. No matter what your circumstances are, you will come out of it a better version of yourself. This strength comes from the Lord and is the very essence of being human.
Keep going: No matter what obstacles are in your way, keep moving with the knowledge that pain is temporary.