May 22, 2017

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Worrying is completely natural and happens to everyone. There’s so many things in our lives to worry about every day. We all worry about our future, because it is something that is uncertain. We worry about bad things that might happen to us or people we love.  One of my favorite philosophers Alan Watts argues that the root of our human frustration and daily anxiety is our tendency to live for the future, which is an abstraction. Everyone agrees that worrying is a negative emotion and counter-productive emotion, because it occupies our mind and drains our mental energy, instead of us concentrating on the NOW. Worries and fear are the opposite of happiness and love, and they can potentially destroy our lives if we let them take over our mental space. So how do we fight with those negative emotions? In my opinion, there are two fundamental concepts we need to understand in order to reduce or stop worrying.

First, we need to understand that we worry about things we can’t control. For instance, we oftentimes worry about how other people think about us. Or we worry about the upcoming event where we need to speak publicly. Or we worry about health of our relatives. Or we worry about our rent going up next year… and the list goes on… We cannot directly control most of that! But what we CAN control is our own thoughts, our own behavior and own own decisions. I deeply believe in the Law of Attraction (I suggest you watch the documentary “Secret” or read the book ). “What we think about, we bring about.” By worrying about troublesome situations that might happen in the future, we unintentionally attract them into our lives. Our thoughts are very powerful tools that shape the reality and we DO have control over them! So stop thinking bad stuff and writing bad stories in your head!!! Think positive thoughts and create good scenarios for your future. Never stop dreaming. Create your own reality the way YOU want it to be!

Second,  we need to learn how to be present and mindful. There has been a lot of research done and many books written (e.g. The Power of Now by Ekhart Tolle) on this very concept – being here and now is ultimately the secret to happiness. If you’d like to read more about how you can make your life happier, check out this article.

In this day and age, being present is actually not a simple task. The amount of information bombarded at us right and left is so overwhelming that in order to keep up, we are forced to do many things at once. I catch myself eating, driving, texting and scheduling my next appointment all at the same time. I’m sure many of you can relate to this  **sigh** Our mind almost forgets how to concentrate on one activity at a time because it’s constantly overstimulated. So how do we learn mindfulness?

There are many ways. Most people associate mindfulness with traditional meditation aka sitting in a lotus pose and trying not to think thoughts. Yes, meditation is a form of mindfulness practice, but mindfulness is not limited to meditation. According to Google dictionary, mindfulness is
1. the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.

2. a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

I teach my clients mindfulness through movement. Whether it’s a private yoga session, a high intensity interval training, pilates reformer workout, or Thai massage, when working with my clients, I make sure they stay mindful and present. How? By being mindful and present myself, first and foremost. I give them 110% of my attention. I leave my phone in my bag until our session is over, and ask for the same commitment from them. Then,  I zero in on our workout and make sure they perform each exercise to the best of their ability. Inevitably my clients concentrate and join me in on this journey. We practice mindfulness together: I instruct, they perform. And by the way, being present while performing an exercise is not only important as a mindfulness practice in itself, but it also increases the performance and even more importantly, it dramatically decreases risk of injury. Injuries are more likely to happen when we loose focus and concentration, and rush through the movements mindlessly.

The best personal training sessions for me are the ones where both me and my clients are focused, present, and giving it the most of our effort. It’s about connection with my clients AND with the present moment. And it’s NOT about how much weight they can squat, how many pull-ups they can do, or a fancy yoga pose they can hold. I am more of a process-driven than a result-driven trainer.  Although, I can’t deny- every time I hear my clients get a good bone crack in their spine, it makes me very happy, too 🙂

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