Posts tagged with “mindfulness”

Mini Meditation: Being At Ease in Your Life

If you ever find yourself over-reacting, over-whelmed, or just plain over-doing it, there’s a powerful practice that can help you come back to center and feel at ease. That practice is mindfulness.

According to mindfulness expert, Dr. Jon Kabat Zinn, Mindfulness is non-judgmentally paying attention on purpose in the present moment.

Practicing mindfulness can create deep relaxation and enable you to respond to events and experiences with more insight, compassion, and creativity and less attachment, tension, and reactivity. Mindfulness meditation can generate a relaxed, yet alert, state of heightened awareness in which you calmly witness what is happening inside and around you without being attached to the thoughts, images, feelings, sounds, or sensations that move through the stream of consciousness.

The following mindfulness meditation will help you be at ease in your life. After listening, I’d love to hear your Comments about how it went. Also, please share with your family, friends, and co-workers through the social sharing buttons.

Enjoy!
Kevin

P.S. Click Here to explore our wide range of meditation programs.

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Does More Money Mean More Happiness?

Is having more money an important goal in your life? Do you think that more money will bring more happiness? True, it’s cliché to say that money doesn’t buy you happiness. However, a wealth of recent studies seem to back up that assertion. More importantly, it’s clear that there’s something even more valuable than money when it comes to really enjoying your life.

We’ve all heard stories of lottery winners who are no happier after winning than before. In one surprising study they were happy on a par with accident victims who had been paralyzed. Other studies have shown that above a level of family income required to provide for needs, gains in income don’t equate to gains in happiness.

In fact, it seems that people routinely miscalculate what will make them happy. Events such as vacations, holidays, moving to California, having kids, and getting a raise are just as likely to leave you with the same amount of happiness or even less.

One surprising study showed that higher levels of wealth can lead to a lower ability to savor life experiences. Could it be that “having more stuff” can become clutter that leads to more and more headaches and hassles and less and less time and energy put into enjoying the experiences that give us the most pleasure?

So, what is more important than money when it comes to happiness?

The key to happiness seems to be how we engage in the experiences we are having. The moments we end up cherishing most are the ones that stand out as vivid, meaningful, savored, shared, and remembered. What if those attributes became the measuring stick we used in deciding what to put our time and energy into?

Would we still work 60-80 hours per week just for the money or for that promotion? Would we still engage in work that drained our vitality and left us longing for the weekend? Would we plan our days like one big “To Do List” rushing from one event to the next? Would we still enroll our kids in so many activities that they are just as stressed out as we are? Would we really think it was worth it to move this fast and be this busy?

What if happiness really does depend on savoring the moment and engaging in moments worth savoring? What if being able to do that meant refining our senses and our sensibilities to better appreciate what is happening now? What if our lives are happier the more we are able to be present, engaged, mindful, and grateful?

The truth is that money is neutral—neither good or bad. It’s a means of exchange, pure and simple. It’s the way we accomplish our economic exchanges that matter more for our happiness.

So, is your work meaningful to you? Does it contribute something good to others and the world? Do you do it in a way that creates vivid, meaningful, savored, shared moments worth remembering?

What if those qualities guided how you related to all the precious moments of your life? How might that affect the choices you make?

Enjoy your practice,

Kevin

Kevin Schoeninger

P.S. This week on Spiritual Growth Monthly, we’re practicing a simple, 4-step technique that empowers you to start the day being present, feeling great, and focusing on what is most important to you. Click here to check it out.

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The Perils of Quick Thinking

What if many of the judgments and decisions you make had little to do with facts or even probabilities? What if the bulk of what you are thinking was automatically triggered by random circumstances in the environment? What if that tendency was the source of many arguments, conflicts and poor results in your life? Would that surprise you? Would you be a little alarmed? Could knowing this really help you?

I’m reading a fascinating book called “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” by Nobel Prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman. In it Kahneman describes two thinking systems that influence our experiences, judgments, and decisions—what he calls System 1 and System 2. In a nutshell, System 1 is quick, intuitive, emotional, automatic, and efficient. System 2 is slow, methodical, rational, deliberate, and time and energy consuming.

In our fast-paced, get-it-all-done-yesterday culture, it’s no wonder that most of us use System 1 as our default mode most of the time. This has obvious advantages in helping us speed through life and not get overwhelmed.

For example, as quickly as you can, answer the following simple math problem:

Together, a bat and a ball cost $1.10. If the bat costs $1.00 more than the ball, how much does the ball cost?

If you answered 10 cents, you’re not alone. Many people give that answer. That’s a quick answer that seems intuitively correct. That was a System 1 response.

Let’s do a little System 2 math to check it:

If the ball is 10 cents, then the bat would have to be $1.00 to add up to $1.10. $1.00 minus 10 cents is a difference of 90 cents. We were told that the difference between the two prices was $1.00, so this answer is incorrect.

The correct answer is 5 cents for the ball and $1.05 for the bat, which leaves a difference of $1.00 between the two and they add up to $1.10.

As you can see, System 1 has some drawbacks. It may be fast and efficient, but it can lead to wrong answers. It turns out that System 1 has all sorts of tendencies that lead us to false information and beliefs. For example, System 1 is biased by what is easiest, what agrees with what we already know, what we like and don’t like, what happened most recently, what was emotionally intense, what is reported in the media, and even words we just read or heard.

Here’s another example to check your own inner process. When you are asked a question, how often do you take time to define terms, understand exactly what is being asked, survey relevant evidence on different sides of the issue, question the validity of that evidence, and then express an opinion based on which evidence you consider to be the strongest?

When I turn that lens on myself, I am amazed at how quickly I answer without doing any of the above. I often have an intuitive “quick hit,” then I will go on to tell a story that backs up my quick response.

The next time you end up in a political discussion, notice if you do something like that. Do you really know what you’re talking about? Do you really understand the complexity of the issue, the evidence on the different sides of it, and the credibility of that evidence? Or are you quickly reacting from prejudgments, biases, and personal likes and dislikes? Which is it really?

Kahneman’s book shares a wealth of research revealing how we make judgments, form beliefs, and make decisions. Surprisingly, in some of our most important life decisions we are “winging it” on the basis of false assumptions we’re not even aware of.

So, what’s the quick moral of this story? For me, it’s this:

Mindfulness is invaluable.

In other words, it is well worth the time and energy to slow down and pay a bit more attention to what we’re thinking, feeling, assuming, and believing—especially when it comes to things that are important to us.

If you have an important judgment or decision to make, call in System 2 to help you out. Slow down and clearly define the issue. Seek as much evidence as you can on different sides of the question. Gather a wide range of opinions from others. Ask yourself, what if the opposite of what I’m thinking were true? Seek proof for and against your position. Check your sources. Double-check your calculations.

It’s not that intuition should never be trusted. Intuition is the source of our most amazing insights. At the same time, our “quick hits” can mislead us. Understand that subconscious biases often take over and lead you to false conclusions. So bring in System 2, when things really matter. Use your intuition to come up with a range of possible solutions, then test and fine-tune those solutions with your rational mind.

Can you see how using both systems can help you come to better solutions?

Can you see how that helps you work better with others?

Together fast and slow thinking lead us to more conscious, compassionate, accurate, and effective solutions.

Kevin

Kevin Schoeninger

P.S. A powerful way to relax and become more mentally and emotionally effective is to practice meditation. Meditation grows your inner skills. Click here to learn more about the Secrets of Meditation.

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