Pissed off, angry and generally quick to fly off the handle is how I’ve spent much of my life. I definitely got better over time, probably due to the erratic teenage hormones wearing off. Still, spending any amount of your life in a negative state is a complete waste of time and a life.
You may remember in my article ‘Jamie’s New Year Memo On Achieving Your Goals’ I listed a lot of life areas I wanted to develop in 2016 and how I would be focussing more on transforming the mind rather than the physical appearance. Well, today I want to share with you 4 ways that helped me turn my life upside down…
Books, books and more books
Over Christmas, I read about ten books ranging from anger to happiness and relationships to business. Since then, I have carried on getting through about one book a week. What I have tried to achieve is becoming more self-aware of my problem areas and to try and declutter any noise my life. How have I done this?
This is will be the most woo-woo out of the list, but bear with me. I’ve been making a really conscious effort to instill some positivity into the world. These are often really tiny gestures. One I quite like at the moment is always letting people out in traffic. We’ve all been there waiting to be let out and no one ever helps a brother out! Well, you can be that brother who helps your fellow man. I guarantee it will brighten their day and they will then spend the rest of their day letting people out in the traffic. You can say you are in a rush, but it must only add about ten seconds to your journey. Also, I’ve noticed that more than half the time I let them out they aren’t even going the route I was going so it literally has zero effect on my day but has a positive one on theirs!
My favourite thing is getting little gifts for people. My Mum is the most thoughtful person I know and will always get me thoughtful small ticket items that show me she cares. I always said I wish I could be as thoughtful. Then one day I realised I can be, I was just being lazy! What comes around goes around… I am yet to buy someone a gift and they haven’t got me something back at some point. This isn’t the goal, but it shows you how one act of kindness leads to another. So go and buy someone a treat today! (8 hours after I wrote this article, Tony Robbins published an article where he talks about exactly this topic. His message was ‘the secret to living is giving’. Please read it).
Reading the book, ‘Get Things Done’ by David Allen, really helped me to empty my mind from the minutiae that scavengers away on your brain on a daily basis. It teaches you a very simple system that helps organise both your work life and personal life, trying to get as much of the nitty gritty out of your head and into a physical world. If you are the person who doesn’t keep a calendar, think of a time when you knew you had to attend something at a specific moment in time… it keeps popping into your head and you think about the upcoming event. It takes up the use of your brain every time it pops into your head. By writing the appointment down into a calendar (I use google calendar) it never pops into your head as you no longer need to remember to attend. It is simple things like this that can really free up your mind for more creative thinking.
Another way I’ve improved my business life is by tackling any problem area head on. I was extremely dissatisfied with how my accounts were being run and I spent a lot of the year moaning about it. I realised it was actually me that was the problem as I wasn’t doing anything about it! I quickly hired someone new, put a rigid structure in place and now I no longer need to stress…
Transcendental Meditation (TM)
My lustful relationship with meditation began with the hugely popular app ‘Headspace’. I like to call Headspace a gateway drug. Headspace makes meditation very accessible and it was a perfect way for me to dip my toes into something I’d never imagine I would do.
However, having done Headspace for a few months, which practices mindfulness, I began to crave something a little different. Mindfulness is great for helping keep you in the moment, but I was after something that would quieten my mind down that didn’t consist of alcohol and prescription drugs.
This is when I discovered TM. TM is a mantra-based meditation where you have to go attend a course that takes up two hours each day, for four days. It’s beautifully simple, which is why I believe people feel it is unfair for them to charge for the right. All I can say is, is that TM has now brought a level of calm to my life that I would be willing to pay £1,000s for. For me, it has been worth the price tag (The price varies on your income status, which you self-report). If the price is a concern, do some research for other mantra-based meditations, as I am sure there are some out there that do not cost an arm and a leg.
What has been great about practicing TM are the results I have seen in my self-quantified heart rate variability (HRV) numbers. Measuring HRV using the EmWave Pro by Heartmath shows the balance of your autonomic nervous system, i.e. the ratio between sympathetic (stress) and parasympathetic (relaxation). In the space of three weeks, my numbers swung from 12:1 all the way down to 1:1. It was unbelievable to watch it dropping on a daily basis!
I think everyone should give meditation a go. I managed to get my Dad meditating using Headspace and I cannot believe the difference I have seen in him from just 30 days of meditating. He is the more calm and relaxed than I have ever known him. If I can get him doing it, you should definitely try it!
The Landmark Forum
I committed at the beginning of the year to invest money into my mind. I immediately booked three courses, one of which I have already attended.
The Landmark Forum is a 3.5-day event that takes you through an emotional rollercoaster in an intensive setting to try to push you to achieve a transformation. I was relatively skeptical of this course as a simple google of their name brings up the word ‘cult’. I read polarising articles from people saying how they push people too far to others saying this changed their world for the better, looking back several years on. It had got my attention and I just had to sign up.
The course attempts to re-wire how your mind processes everyday events. They say a lot of how we perceive things is based on previous events that have happened in our lives. If you had an abusive childhood you may develop trust issues, or if your parent died when you were young you may avoid getting close to people in life, for instance. Their philosophy is that a past event should not influence how you act today. A past event belongs in the past, so why let it ruin the life you live today?
Another key element to the course is making you realise you can only be in control of yourself, or change yourself. You do not have the power to change others. So why stress yourself that that friend has let you down again? You cannot change them, but you can change how you react to the situation. By thinking this way it really helps you to process ‘bad events’ by just seeing them for what they are and not letting interfere with the rest of your life.
This is as best as I can describe this course and I am sure it leaves many questions. All I can say is that it triggered me to call a grandmother I lost contact with for 10 years after we spilled some bad blood. The course pushes you to ‘complete’ on as many past events as you can, meaning you can slowly begin to clean up your life. I reached out to several exes where I had still been carrying the weight of the matters that were left unresolved. Having completed them off and getting the closure, it now means I can finally move on. You should expect to make quite a few calls over the weekend!
I went with the sole goal of getting rid of my anger and I must say, immediately and since the event, I have not experienced any anger. Now when I am faced with a situation that would typically have set me off, I try to see things from their point of view and realise that it isn’t that big a deal in the grand scheme of things. I recently went through a breakup and was told by my ex she is dating someone new and I can honestly say I just felt happy as I knew she was getting something I couldn’t give. What it teaches you is that it is ok to feel any emotion as you can’t help that due to the voice in your head, but you don’t need to act out on that emotion.
It was a powerful few days and I feel it has saved my life, to be honest, metaphorically speaking. I’d encourage anyone to check it out at any one of their global locations.
I have a few more courses coming up, a session in a floatation tank and I will continue to read books to keep my transformation at the forefront of my mind. The mind is a muscle that needs actively stretching.
I’ll keep you posted you lovely people!