If you want to be successful in achieving your goals you need to learn how to stop thinking.
Do you want to know why and how? Then read further.
I used to believe that in order to be wise one needs to think a lot. And of course for as many things as possible. As fast as possible. However, it turned out to be on the contrary.
The more thoughts we allow in our heads the more they hinder our progress. They make us have all sorts of feelings (angry, confused, hurt, sad, happy, loving, keen, etc.) distracting us and thus making us lose focus and making us stupid.
Taking thoughts out of our heads is what makes us wise.
Our conscious mind is like the top of an iceberg. There is a lot more underwater, hidden and invisible in our subconscious mind. And our true wisdom and inner knowledge are also there.
But in order to reach them, we need to free our conscious mind and allow space for them to come up. Why do you think our best ideas occur while under the shower or while we brush our teeth? Because those are usually moments when we stop or at least reduce thinking and then answers, ideas, solutions, etc., have space to come up.
The thoughts that are chasing in our heads are one of the biggest breaks when we want to move forward in life. We are much happier, aware and effective when we are focused on what we are doing, instead of thinking constantly in the background about something else.
Make a simple experiment.
Early in the morning when you wake up, start preparing for the day (like choosing clothes, having breakfast, etc.) but do your best to think only about the next thing you need to do to achieve your goal, i.e. prepare for the day.
Be conscious about distracting thoughts and every time such a thought comes into your mind (you can’t stop your thoughts after all) just let it go and focus again on the next things you need to do. Not on what your boss said, not on what your wife/husband did, not on what happened yesterday on your way to the office… just on the next simple thing, you need to do. It may seem a little stupid to focus on “choose and take fruits from the fridge, decide what to eat this morning” etc., but just try it.
I can bet that your time for preparing will drop somewhere between 30% and 50%! And that is just because you don’t let other thoughts distract you. When you think about the next steps you need to do, you optimize them and even if you don’t hurry at all, all of a sudden you are ready for the day earlier.
Now imagine if every morning you wake up one hour earlier, make a conscious effort to free your mind and then start working on your dreams and goals. Not only you will have a good progress because of the regular daily work but when you free your mind and then keep it this way by focusing only on what you are doing, it is very likely that you will be able in 1-2 hours to finish more work than you would have in 8 hours during the day! And most of us don’t have 8 hours to work only on their dreams and life goals.
Later, at the end of a busy day when you go to sleep if you are like me then you would go to bed and all kind of thoughts will start fighting for attention in your head. Freeing your mind, in this case, is the magic medicine that will not only put you soon to sleep but will help you sleep deeper and better.
So, how to do that? How to free your mind?
Here are my 10 tips for freeing and calming your mind:
That’s probably the most obvious way to calm your mind but still, meditation may sound like a rocket science for many people. Or like something which is only for gurus. The fact is that it is really simple to make and is meant for everybody. It requires only a few minutes of your time and that is one of the best ways to free and calm your mind.
I am not going into details on how to make meditation, but if you’ve never done it before you can read some useful tips on the Internet or even better, go ahead and make one guided meditation to see how it goes for you. You can find good ones at the Tara Brach website – the shortest one is 1 minute!!
I want to share with you a short funny story about my wife’s experience with meditation. She used to be one of those people that don’t believe in meditation. A few years ago I was trying to convince her to try it and one day during a sunny afternoon I had success and we made a guided meditation together. After the meditation finished she said something like “Hmm, I told you, this doesn’t work for me”… and then went right into the bed and fall asleep 🙂 And that is a person that almost never sleeps during the day.
So, go ahead and give it a try. You may find it really useful to spend a few minutes in the day for yourself making a meditation. You can also fall asleep if you have a bed nearby 🙂
Don’t forget that mind is like a muscle – you will get better in time and to keep the progress you have to keep training.
Sports are a wonderful way to release stress and negative thoughts and feelings. Doing exercises is not only good for your body but it also helps to calm and free your mind. Especially sports like swimming, jogging, biking, etc. where you can be by yourself repeating the same pattern of movements again and again.
Being a sports fan I love this way of calming. When I grab my bike early in the morning and go to ride on those small forest trails all thoughts and tension begin to release with each pedal press. And if I consciously decide to release all thoughts during this time it can be almost meditative.
Of course the same can be applied if you play team sports like tennis, football, etc. It is good enough that you are focused on the activity. That’s all you have to do to free your mind.
That’s a huge topic and I am not sure where to start from and what exactly to say about it. I’ve been practicing different types of yoga for the last 9 years and no matter what type of yoga you choose to practice I can only say that it is a wonderful way of letting go of attachments, thoughts, feelings, etc.
My experience is that it is one of the best ways to find balance, clear your thoughts and reach your inner wisdom. I usually do it in the morning which gives me a wonderful and clear start of the day thus allowing me to focus on the important things I want to do.
“Yoga is not about touching your toes; it’s about what you learn on the way down”. You can also give it a try.
4. Watching a flame
I love this one but unfortunately I can’t make it very often. Two weeks ago we were camping on the mountain and in the evening, of course, we made a campfire. The night fell, then kids went to sleep and at some point, we were left just a few people around it. Everybody staring at the fire. No one willing to talk. Watching the never repeating shapes of the flames felt like they burn all thoughts and what’s left was just the presence. Not necessary to tell how well I slept after that.
5. Practice gratitude
That’s a powerful one and the good thing about it is you can do it anywhere and anytime. Explanation here is simple. You can’t be angry, sad, hurt, etc. and at the same time be grateful.
If you start looking for and find at least 3 things you are grateful for right now, you can really help yourself release such feelings and thoughts.
Try this: tonight when you go to sleep if a nasty thought is coming back, again and again, start practicing gratitude. Find 3 things you are really grateful for and experience gratefulness as fully as possible. I promise you this will clear your head and you will find it much easier to fall asleep.
I personally love to do it in the morning. Every morning I write down three things I am grateful for. That gives me a great start of the day with a focus on the things in life that matter to me.
6. Practice forgiveness
This is very similar to the previous one. And the idea is the same. Usually, the thoughts that torture us are those related to something or someone that had a negative impact on us. Forgiveness is a very powerful method to let go. It releases the energy that is stuck and attached to the bad experience we had.
Again you can do it anywhere and anytime. I love to do it in the morning together with the gratitude. I write down three things I want to forgive for. Sometimes it happens a few days in a row to write down about the same thing. It’s not always that easy to forgive and if you find that thoughts are coming back, again and again, that means you still have something left to forgive for.
On the contrary, sometimes you may feel you don’t have anything to forgive for. But I am sure that you will be able to remember even a very small happening from the previous day that you can forgive for. It may be just a small incident while driving to work or somebody that looked at you in a not very nice way. There is always something.
How to do it? I write down what I want to forgive for. Then imagine the situation as if it is happening right now and forgive the other person. And then I forgive myself for judging the person or the situation. After that, I imagine everyone involved being happy and smiling. That’s it. The part with forgiving yourself and imagining everyone being happy is really important if you want to forgive fully.
7. Have fun
Laughter is the best medicine they say. “A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress. It boosts the immune system and decreases stress hormones.” So, laughter means less stress and less stress means more positive thoughts and more calmness.
You can probably remember a tense or difficult situation when you suddenly burst into a fit of giggles. And a few minutes later all the problems don’t seem that big anymore and you can look at the world with new eyes. Laughing is really great so find a way to do it from time to time (or even all the time 🙂 )
8. Take a walk in nature
A walk in the mountain, a forest nearby or even in the park may soothe the mind and change the workings of our brains in ways that improve our mental health.
There are various studies that have found urban dwellers with little access to green spaces have more psychological problems than people living near parks and those city dwellers who visit natural environments regularly have lower levels of stress than people who have not recently been outside.
Most of us today live in the cities and spend far less time outside in green, natural spaces than people did several generations ago. It is always a good idea to plan and take a walk in nature. That’s a great way to release the accumulated stress and clear the mind.
9. Listen to calm music
That’s probably the easiest one. Not only because it’s easy to find relaxing music and just play it, but also it works subconsciously and does not take precious minutes of your time. You can do it while walking, working, sitting in front of your computer and solving problems, etc. Even now, while writing these lines I’m listening to a nice calm music in the background which helps me slow down and be more focused and creative.
Listening to soothing music that relaxes your body and elevates your mind can significantly reduce how much tension you feel. Relaxation music helps you connect to your inner peace, to quiet your thoughts and feel the source of peace within. It’s like having a calming shield around you.
You can use this method to unlock your productivity and creativity. Just prepare a list of nice music to be at hand when you need it. I keep my list uploaded in Dropbox so it is automatically synced between all my mobile devices and computers and I have it with me whenever I need it.
10. Calming affirmations
This is something I discovered in my early years of meditation. I call it calming affirmations. They are like the other affirmations but are shorter and are meant to calm your mind and help you stop thinking.
There are thousands of affirmations on the internet which are really good but for the purpose of calming the mind are usually too long and too specific thus making the mind attach to specific thoughts.
Calming affirmations are short and you don’t have to think about them too much. The idea behind them is that “you simply are”.
Here are some examples and the explanations I find behind each of them:
- “I am good” – Of course, you are. But we often forget that. Saying to yourself that you are good removes many doubts. It divides you from your actions. After all, we are not what we do, we are not perfect and we all make mistakes. No need to torture ourselves with thoughts for them.
- “I am wise” – This one helps you stop wondering and thinking if you took the right decisions or said the right thing. You are wise and you made the best you could at that moment. That’s it. Tomorrow you’ll be even better.
- “I am strong” – Helps to stop worrying about the future. You are a strong person and can handle anything that life will put in your way.
- “I am patient” – No hurry. Things will happen when they are ready to happen. You are patient and you know that you don’t have to think about them all the time.
- “I am confident” – You know that what you already started is the best you can do in this moment of life. So even if you don’t get the desired result you can be confident that it is the right thing to do and you don’t have to think about it anymore.
- “I am calm” – When I say this one I feel how the last pieces of tension disappear. It brings peace and silence.
Calming affirmations like these help us stay in the present instead of wandering in the past or trying to guess the future. You can divide the above examples into two categories – “let go of the past” and “don’t worry about the future”. When I want to get calm I use all of them in order repeating again and again.
Staying present and calm is what holds the true power.
Not running around like crazy and thinking about hundred things. If you want to find and achieve your goals in life stay calm, stay present, stay focused. Free your mind and you will see what lies ahead of you. Then move forward and begin to achieve your goals.
Hope the above tips will help you do that. Probably you can apply some of them. At least try a few. And if you think they might be useful to somebody else don’t forget to take your part in bringing value to the world and share them.