Does social media make us happier?

Dee asks…

“Does social media make us happier? I’m wondering if deleting my social media accounts would help with OCD and anxiety.”

© Tom Bream
© Tom Bream

Ask yourself: “Does social media move me towards or away from health and peace of mind?” (the big causes of happiness).

If social media is a distraction, a stress, if time runs away from you and you keep missing your morning smoothies or your lunch salad, then it’s a problem.

If your Facebook time is “in its place,” if you can sign in for say 10 minutes once or twice a day, and you love interacting with your friends, then it’s a nice, positive thing.

Social media is certainly not needed for health and peace of mind, that’s for sure. But that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a problem either.

Generally speaking, it’s better to simplify your life. Removing anything extra or unnecessary is generally a good idea — certainly until you feel on top of things and back in control.

The most important thing is to focus on the book — all of it. It all matters and everything affects everything else. When you put it into practice you will feel good for no reason.

If you’re not sure there’s “room” for social media then just drop if for now. Make health and peace of mind your top priority. Get on top, feel good first, then see what you do.

Oh and there’s no need to actually delete your accounts of course, just stop using them. :-)

Best wishes,
James

Should I listen to music while meditating?

Dee asks…

“I am a music lover. I was curious if you think it is acceptable to have instrumental music playing in the background while meditating.

I find listening to world music such as Indian relaxation music and things of that sort tend to relax me. Should I meditate only in silence, or can I have instrumental as well?”

© Fernando Butcher
© Fernando Butcher

Listening to music is certainly an enjoyable, relaxing thing to do. People use it a lot to shut the mind up — it works. But it’s not so effective at generating awareness, which is what meditation is all about.

We want to be noticing thoughts pop, and have our attention in the space that thoughts happen. That is what calms the mind over time, and allows us to think on purpose again.  Continue reading

Scared of losing my partner

Dee asks…

“I see a long future with my boyfriend. I want to marry this man, but then I get these unwanted thoughts saying you don’t love him blah blah, then boom — instant anxiety and I feel sick and nauseous.

I don’t understand what’s happening. It’s breaking my heart because I don’t ever want to leave him or him leave me because it would be awful! I just want to be happy.

It comes out of nowhere like I’ll be having a great time and then bam, these little thoughts pop up and it’s killing me inside. I’m crying writing this and want these terrible thoughts to go away. I HATE THEM!

He’s the best man I’ve ever had and don’t want to lose him. I’m so scared of these thoughts. Now they’re constant. I have no idea why they started but the thought of losing him and not having him with me or by my side through life shatters me. I want them to go away so badly.”

Mind power

You cannot tell your mind not to think about something. If I tell you not to think of a pink elephant, it’s the first thing that pops into your mind. :-)

© Makena Zayle Gadient
© Makena Zayle Gadient

So something either has your attention or it doesn’t. If you don’t want a thought/idea to be part of your world, the only way to achieve that is by ignoring it / not caring about it.

This is what communicates to your mind that the thought is unimportant, irrelevant and meaningless.

HATE and FEAR are the opposite of not caring / ignoring.

By reacting to these thoughts with these emotions you are sending a very clear message to your mind that they are important, relevant and meaningful. That’s why they keep popping up more frequently, and with more intensity.

It’s your reaction to these ideas that’s key. It’s the equivalent of encountering a lion and then wondering why thoughts about the scary lion encounter keep popping into your head.  Continue reading

What’s the difference between the conscious and subconscious mind?

Randi asks…

“Is it the subconscious/unconscious mind that generates thoughts, which are then popped into our conscious mind for us to become aware of? Just want to fully understand how the mind works.”

Your conscious mind is like a fairly narrow spotlight. It’s bright and clear but can pretty much only focus on one thing at a time. As you use this “spotlight,” you’re feeding that information to your subconscious mind, all the time.

So you could be thinking “I need to buy more bananas,” “I need to pick up Johnny from soccer practice,” or “The world is a terrible place”… all this information is processed, sorted, matched and organized by your subconscious mind. Continue reading

I feel burnt out and zoned out

Ian asks…

I am CEO of a company and my life has been great — focus minded, career tracked and stress free (good stress only).

But a few months ago I had an anxiety attack (heart palpitations and faint feeling). I had a huge number of tests and was diagnosed with adrenal exhaustion. I also felt hyper sensitive and hyper aware, and my thinking patterns changed.

Then I began experiencing deep sadness, a feeling that time is passing me by and insomnia. I am now also experiencing a sort of ‘derealization’ like I am zoned out and losing touch with reality. I have an emotional numbness… even my family are starting to feel like strangers to me. Please help.

© Daniel Horacio Agostini
© Daniel Horacio Agostini

Everything you’ve described tells me that you’re experiencing burn out. Our vitality can trick us into thinking that what we’re currently doing is fine.

With health, there is usually no immediate cause and effect. We can run on adrenaline, drawing on our “base” vitality for a long time, years even.

But eventually you’ll get a sign, a message from your body that you can’t keep doing what you’re doing. In your case, it was an anxiety attack and the discovery that you were experiencing adrenal exhaustion.

You can have all the tests in the world but I can tell you with 100% certainty that there’s only one true cure: to correct your lifestyle. This is the only way to take the pressure off your mind and body, and experience health and vitality in the long-term.  Continue reading

How to forgive and let go

Sanjeev asks…

What is your view on forgiveness and letting go?
HOW do you do that?

© Chris Ford
© Chris Ford

If we have high vitality and feel happy and care-free, then we naturally “don’t care” — because we have no need or desire to control anything. We are automatically “letting go” all the time.

The ego mind — our mentally constructed sense of self, is always trying to control others and events, whereas the care-free mind is lacking nothing, and so there is no desire to control, and there is nothing to forgive.

This state is achieved through a lifestyle that’s conducive to health and peace of mind. In particular, meditation — listening / awareness, allows us to return to that natural state of “let go-ness”.  Continue reading

How to concentrate on studying without getting distracted

Ashok asks…

“I am a 22 year old student and am sick of my uncontrollable thoughts. My main problem is I can’t concentrate on my study matter. When I try to study I just sink into another world of imagination. After a few minutes I start thinking about college, family, my aims, girls.

I am highly sensitive. Others enjoy themselves, have fun and also study hard but I can’t do any of those things so easily. For every action I think about pros and cons. While talking with friends I try not to hurt anyone and I get too attracted towards girls. If I like someone I can just think about her, for whole days to months.

Please help me in getting rid of useless thoughts of hero imagination, girls, judging others behavior, of living a luxurious life, becoming popular etc. I just want to study, get high scores and be successful in my life.”

© Mer Chau
© Mer Chau

What is success?

First of all, I want you to relax about any ideas you have of being “successful.”

There’s a lot of pressure these days from parents and teachers to get qualifications and well-paid jobs. I understand this from a parent’s perspective.

Apart from notions of “success” they also worry that their child will live a life of financial struggle, and feel unfulfilled, by only being able to get low-paid, “menial” jobs. The common perception is that jobs like sweeping the streets or serving food represents failure.

The reality is that many high earners are in positions of great responsibility and their day is usually unhealthy and stressful. These jobs are often sedentary and demanding — people to manage, targets to hit, deadlines to meet. Stress, fast lunches and unhealthy snacks, a sedentary indoor lifestyle — these things are conducive to poor health and unhappiness. Continue reading

The wise fisherman

© Michael Keith Manges

A fisherman was sitting near the seashore, relaxing under the shadow of a tree.

Suddenly a rich businessman approached him and angrily inquired: Why don’t you catch more fish instead of just sitting there?

The fisherman asked: What would I do by catching more fish?

Businessman: You could sell them, earn more money, and buy a bigger boat.

Fisherman: What would I do then?

Businessman: You could go fishing in deeper waters, catch even more fish and earn even more money.  Continue reading