How To Lead A Life You Love
If you want to love the life you lead. You need to be very aware of something.
You have everything you need, right there inside of you. You just need to learn how to use it.
You are your own leader. You are in control.
It is very enticing to get wrapped up in following the norm because it is easy, safe, and comfortable. We don’t have to think for ourselves when we do this.
Yes sure, there are people who are leaders, and in some situations, it is good to ‘take someones lead’ and have a mentor, but when you only look to the outside world to make change to help your life improve, well… nothing is going to change.
If you want to be the leader in your life, then you have to be prepared to make changes that have a positive impact on your wellbeing. The only person who can help you is YOU.
Here are 5 considerations that will help you to lead a life you LOVE.
1. Understanding what you control
Firstly, stop focusing on the world outside, and how that should change and start to focus on what it is that you can do to make our own personal change.
Reality is, there is only one thing you can control in life and that is you and your actions and reactions.
A very practical approach is using the circles of concern, influence and control. By doing this, you not only begin the process to take back your personal power, you can reduce anxiety and also work out where you are wasting your energy.
Try out this exercise
Draw 3 circles on a piece of paper like the diagram, with the circle of control in the centre, circle of influence in the middle and circle on concern on the outside.
- Circle of concern: The stuff we’re concerned about, but can’t directly impact or change.
- Circle of influence: All the things we can’t directly control but could influence a change.
- Circle of control: Everything we have direct control over and can change if we want to.
You can begin by working out what it is you have direct control of in your life.
Once you’ve done this exercise, you’ll begin to see where you’re spending your energy most and if it is actually the best place to spend your energy. Is what you’re spending your energy on bringing you joy?
“You are very powerful, providing you know how powerful you are.”
– YOGI BHAJAN
2. Identifying habits so you can make positive change
Habits occur after the continuous repetition of an action; they become a behaviour. Sometimes they arise to provide comfort when experiencing an unpleasant feeling (or avoiding the real issue) or to ensure brain efficiency, so we don’t need to re-learn everything.
Half the time we don’t even realise what we are doing is out of habit. Habits are often categorise habits as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ but in reality, those simplified categories do not necessarily suit all habits.
According to mindfulness teacher and author of The Here-and-now Habit, Hugh G Byrne PhD, habits can be categorised into the following:
- Healthy or Unhealthy
- Wanted or Unwanted
- Helpful or Unhelpful
- Unharmful or Harmful
A way to identify a habit is to ask yourself:
‘Is this habit positively impacting on my wellbeing, does it serve my deepest need or intention?’
The thing is, you might not even realise that you’re doing this because it has become a habit.
Identifying an unhealthy habit is one thing, but what if the unhealthy, unwanted or unhelpful habit is negative self-talk? Yep, that is totally a thing.
The self-limiting stories you keep telling yourself just aren’t true, but why do you believe them?
It’s not just you! All human beings have what’s called a ‘Negativity bias’.
Put simply, if someone said one negative comment to you, you’d dwell on it, whereas when someone says something nice, it has to be said a number of times before you believe it to be true.
If we continue to think poorly of ourselves, using negative internal dialogue, we will very quickly believe it is true.
These negative thought patterns have most likely become a habit, triggered by a past experience that we’ve held and emotion to.
So to take back your personal power, and start to believe the greatness of what you can achieve, you need to change that unwanted, unhealthy and unhelpful habit of negative self-talk. You can create habits that benefit your wellbeing through the practice of meditation, breathwork and a physical yoga practice.
3. Changing a habit so you can begin to lead the life you live
To change a habit, you have to disrupt and discontinue the automatic behaviour or thought pattern. Which is why recognising your habits, and becoming aware of them is so important to be able to make change.
There are a number of ways to disrupt an automatic behaviour including:
- becoming aware of your habits
- having clear intentions
- deciding if your actions align with your values
- if you’re expecting that a challenge might occur that could trigger your habit, then preempt that experience by visualising how you might approach it (think it through). So, if x happens, then I will do y.
You can use a contemplative practice like mindful meditation, yoga asana (pose) or breathwork to help train your body and mind so you improve your awareness in your everyday activities and how they are affecting your body and mind.
According to Hugh G Byrne:
“…training to be in the present moment can free you from the suffering that comes from being lost in discursive thought, opening you to the freedom that is there in each moment.”
– HUGH G. BYRNE PHD
4. Taking time each day for you
Our beliefs can cause us inner turmoil when associated with a harmful, unhealthy, unwanted or unhelpful habit.
Taking time each day for contemplation is key in giving yourself the space you need to digest information, let go of what doesn’t serve you and create more space for insights that will improve your wellbeing.
You can do this by setting aside a little bit of time each day for a Yoga Asana, Pranayama (breathwork) or meditative practice.
Contemplative practice can help you to let go of those beliefs that keep you holding onto and those habits which do not positively serve your wellbeing.
You can manage these thoughts and beliefs by having focussed attention, using a focus like the breath or mantra helps you to anchor in the present moment. When your mind wanders to a thought and you become aware of it, you take yourself back to the breath or the mantra.
This approach “…will help loosen your identification with thoughts and develop a more healthy relationship with them. You’ll begin to see your thoughts as simply thoughts and not necessarily truths.” – Hugh G Byrne.
You can then take this approach into your daily life, and when you experience an unpleasant feeling, rather than reaching for the harmful, unhealthy, unhelpful or unwanted habit that will make it “go away”, you can take your awareness to it. Sit with it, and you’ll find it will soon pass.
It’s important though, not to obsess about the feeling. Just acknowledge that it is there. All feelings are impermanent.
It takes time to change a habit.
5. Setting a meaningful intention
Setting an intention is a massive key to begin to lead a life you love.
To create positive change, you have to have a clear intention. A clear intention can only arise out of a balanced state of being where your emotional heart is open and ready to receive.
In Yoga, we do this through the practice of meditation, breathwork and a physical yoga practice (yoga poses). When you do any of these practices, you intuitively begin to learn about your body and mind.
The Body – Finding Your Personal Power
Our energy centre, or our digestive system, is where our will power is created. It is the fire in the belly (or our digestive fire), where we turn food into energy, where we activate the physical parts of the body used to store and create energy. You can control this through physical movement, particularly with a focus on the abdominals, or through the breath (if you think about the dynamics of breathing, you’ll know our belly moves when we breathe deeply and/ or powerfully). All of this stimulates our navel centre, solar plexus (and of course, the vagus nerve – a relaxed belly in a slow breath tells the brain we are safe).
The Mind – Creating Space For Insights
Sitting and chanting a mantra, focusing on or controlling your breath or moving into a yoga pose or sequence, means you are focusing on the present moment. This takes a tremendous amount of effort, because the Mind can be turbulent. However, allowing the breath, mantra or physical feeling in the body to attract your focus, will help to slow the mind, bringing you to a place of balance. Once here, you are ready to deepen your focus.
The Soul – Opening Your Heart, Discovering Your True Intention
To begin to create an intention, you take your focus to your heart and qualities such as compassion, love, kindness and forgiveness to yourself or others. When you feel you’re in an elevated state, you write down your intention to commit to something you want to change. The key thing here is being in the elevated state, your heart is beginning to open.
“Love yourself. Love your soul and let go of the past. Past pain is keeping you in pain. You don’t have to deteriorate.”
– YOGI BHAJAN
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