“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live in the present moment, wisely and earnestly.”
Buddha (Religious Leader)
“A human mind is a wandering mind and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind.”
Matthew Killingsworth (Author, Stumbling On Happiness)
“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.”
Dalai Lama (Tibetan Leader)
I used to be neurotic.
(Okay, maybe I’m still a little neurotic.)
I used to worry about everything.
My relationships with other people.
At the same time, I was weirdly proud of my ability to worry about things.
Look at all this crap I’m worried about!
I must be super important if I have all this stupid crap in my life!
Then I started having panic attacks.
I used to think panic attacks were something that only affected weak people.
Nope — they can happen to anyone.
(That, or I’m just weak. Or both?)
I raced into the emergency room one day and told the nurse I was having a heart attack.
I was out of breath and lightheaded and my heart was pounding.
She took one look at me and told me to sit down because I was only having a panic attack.
Now I was panicked AND embarrassed.
Had I really worried so much in life that I was having full-blown, biological, uncontrollable, fight-or-flight response?
Yes, I was.
My worrisome mind had made me miserable and unhealthy.
It wasn’t until many months later that I was able to manage my overactive mind and get present and purposeful with my life again.
As I became more present and purposeful, I became happier and happier.
Why Intentional Activity Is The Key To Happiness
The purpose of life is to be happy.
Your ultimate endpoint in life is not a job title or an annual salary.
At best, those are average goals, or average outcomes.
Your ultimate endpoint is not your lifestyle either.
The actions you want to wake up and do on a daily basis are important, but they are not your ultimate endpoint.
Your true endpoint is how you feel.
Your true endpoint is pleasure, or happiness.
The problem is that what makes you happy is not what will make someone else happy.
Another problem is that what makes you happy now, might not make you happy later.
Happiness is complex, but it can be measured and broken down into understandable components.
The Review of General Psychology studied the pursuit of happiness and found the following…
The reason happiness is so important is because it contributes to more than just a feeling in the moment — it impacts the entire lifespan.
Happier people have increased success in marriage, social support, work productivity and advancement — they also have higher incomes, more energy, and “flow”.
Happier people are physically and mentally healthier and show greater self-control and ability to self-regulate.
They have stronger immune systems and more charitable and empathetic outlooks.
The idea that happiness is self-centered and egomaniacal is false and likely a rationalization made up by miserable people.
Miserable people that want you to be miserable with them.
Once you figure out what makes you happy, you know the ultimate endpoint you are seeking.
This same study found that three things contributed to the measurement of happiness:
- A happiness “set point”
- Intentional activity
That’s right, intentional activity accounted for 40% of overall happiness.
You have a direct impact in your choices and your thoughts on how happy you are.
Intentional activities are the things that you intentionally discipline yourself to do to increase your happiness.
Namely, where you focus and what you focus on.
The things you do and think of on a daily basis.
As cited by The University of California, Berkeley, practices that increase happiness include: gratitude, mindfulness, forgiveness, charity, kindness, a positive mindset, and focusing on personal goals that are important to you.
These elements contribute to social connectedness to positive people, which is the number one factor in overall personal happiness.
Isolation/loneliness, perfectionism and the practice of maximizing (I have to suck every bit of happiness out of every moment for immediate gratification) were mental habits associated with a lack of happiness.
How To Stop Worrying And Create An Intentional Mindset
You will be miserable in life until you figure out what makes you happy.
Seems simple right?
Once you figure out what you need to make you happy, you can work backwards to determine the daily actions, or the lifestyle, that will bring you to that endpoint.
You can continue working backwards to determine the goals, or the outcomes, that will allow you to live the lifestyle that makes you happy.
So what will make you happy?
I don’t know, but I can tell you what will make you unhappy — a wandering mind.
A worrisome mind.
Studies show that more than anything else, a wandering mind — especially a mind that’s wandering in a negative direction, such as when you worry or obsess over the past or future — is what makes people unhappy.
Here are 3 ways how to live in the present moment, be mindful, and stop worrying…
1. Cut off the past and get present now.
The more present you are, the happier you are.
The truth is that most people are not present in life.
Most people let their minds wander and drift onto other things — constantly.
You have the ability to dig up past memories, ruminate on the events in your current life, and try and predict the future with your mind at any given time.
Research shows that this capacity is often used for negative reflection, negative emotions, and anxiety-provoking content.
You are your own worst enemy.
You can’t be happy in the past because it’s gone.
You can’t be happy in the future because it hasn’t happened yet.
You can only be happy now.
But being happy now requires you to be present — now.
People are happiest, in general, when they are engaged in a great conversation, being romantic with someone, or exercising.
They are least happy when working, “doing nothing”, or on a computer.
The things that keep you the most present, keep you happy.
The things that make your mind wander or worry, make you miserable.
If you’re thinking about what isn’t happening as much as you’re thinking about what is, you’ll find it impossible to focus and even harder to be productive.
So, get over your fear of missing out.
And get over what you did wrong or what he said or what she did.
Get back to NOW.
Increase your ability to be present by being intentional in your thoughts.
Focus on other people when you are in conversation with them.
Bring awareness to all of your senses when you feel your mind drifting.
Take control of your time to minimize computer use and any activity where you find your mind wandering.
Stop thinking that your ultimate endpoint in life is “doing nothing” or “killing time.”
Stop indulging rampant thoughts, emotions, and memories of worry and pain.
Most importantly, stop letting others dump worry and stress into your life.
2. Never let others make you worry.
A wandering mind can lead to mistakes, loss of productivity, and loss of momentum.
Train your mind to reject negative and meaningless thoughts.
Train your mind to block out the drama and worry that others try to force into your life.
Decide what you need to be happy.
Then reject the things that make you unhappy.
This includes people that drag you down, distract you from your goals, and don’t support your vision.
You have to keep any person, thought, or activity that doesn’t increase your happiness — your sense of connection and well-being — in check.
Or cut them out completely.
Stop tolerating toxic losers in your life.
Stop letting other people dump their stress, distraction, and drama into your life.
You are not a garbage disposal.
Start protecting your mind and what goes into it and what you allow through it.
Eliminate worriers and distractors from your life and instead, surround yourself with positive people who keep you present and excited about your future.
Surround yourself with people who keep you in flow states, not those who pull you out of them.
3. Build your life around flow states.
The more time you spend in what is called a “flow state,” the happier you are.
A flow state is a state where you lose track of time, lose track of yourself, and get completely lost in what you are doing.
For most people, this state is only achieved when you’re doing key activities like exercising, having a great conversation, going for a walk in nature, listening to music, reading, meditating, praying, playing with your friends, kids, or pets.
The key to being happy in life is to figure out which activities put you in this very present flow state and build your life around them.
This flow state is your happiness.
Most people spend less than 5% of their time in this flow state.
This is particularly true at work, where over 70% of employees are disengaged.
Flow states bring happiness because they bring positive stimulation.
A flow state is less a state of distraction and more a state of intense presence mixed with sharp focus.
This state is NOT merely a state of dreamy bliss.
Instead, studies show that a flow state is a state of deep satisfaction that comes from finding ways to function and perform at your highest level.
Increasing the amount of time you spend in a flow state means breaking out of your comfort zone.
It means taking social risks outside of your normal routine.
It means increasing the amount of novelty in your life.
It may also mean adding more complexity, intrigue, and discovery to your job.
In other words… stop being so dull at work and at home.
Stop being trapped in monotony and mediocrity in your work, your relationships, and your purpose.
Shake things up.
Steven Kotler, author of The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance, describes flow this way…
“Flow shows up when we’re stretching, pushing our skills to the max,” says Kotler. “It’s an uncomfortable place to be in the moment, but the payoff is a deeper life satisfaction.”
This is where we feel superhuman and unstoppable.
A flow state will give you a natural high.
It will make you feel fully engaged in your life and will give you a positive sense of control.
The more you challenge yourself to access a flow state, the more time you’ll spend in maximum focus and in full participation of your own life.
Figure out what your endpoint is. What does happiness look like in your life? Use that as your starting point. Start figuring out which activities make you happy and then start mapping out a plan to create a lifestyle that supports these activities. Don’t negotiate your time and thought life to practices that breed disconnection and distraction. Find your flow and live in it daily while you reject anything inside or outside of you that threatens your happiness.
To learn more about how to live in the present moment and stop worrying about things, and to get instant access to exclusive training videos, case studies, insider documents, and my private online network, get on the Escape Plan wait list.