128. Tell it like it is.

A conversation yesterday guided me towards introducing the habit we will be discussing for the next three weeks.

As I often do, I spent a few moments yesterday chatting briefly with a lady in my office who has been a colleague, friend and mentor for the past 15 years.

During that time we have run a business together – one in which we offered certification training for people who wished to become business coaches – and have frequently done work for the same clients. As we both had offices in the same building we felt that it made sense to move into a single location so in addition to the labels above we have also been office-mates for approximately seven years.

Dr. Patricia Pitsel is a psychologist who is my default go-to person when I need advice in dealing with a particular client or a challenging situation.

One of Pat’s most distinguishing features is her willingness to always be direct, even and often at the expense of not telling people what they want to hear but rather what she believes to be true.

For as long as I have known Pat she has been a committed practitioner of The Habit of Being Forthright. She has long held the philosophy of holding no punches in saying and being very direct in the way she addresses people.

There is no intention to be hurtful or mean-spirited instead there is an unshakable conviction that the truth must be told and regardless of how unpleasant that truth may be to the recipient, the short-term pain of the truth is always preferable to the long-term pain of delusion.

Pat will be the first to acknowledge that her truth may not be the truth.

She understands that, as we have discussed so often on this page, there are very a few facts in the world when compared to the vast array of opinions out there.

This means that Pat recognizes that her directness is merely an expression of her opinion – what she believes to be true – and that true friends, true counsellors, true professionals, always share their truth even when clearly it will not be received with welcoming, open arms.

The Habit of Being Forthright is one that is difficult for some to acquire as, in the quest to “never hurt anyone’s feelings”, we quite often sugar-coat what we believe to be true so as to tell others what they wish to hear.

I know what you’re thinking. How do you apply The Habit of Being Forthright to this question, “Do these jeans make my butt look fat?”

Naturally I asked Pat that very question knowing full well what her response would be. In her customary way of really helping others make sense of the world she said that if someone asks that question and you believe the answer is “yes” then the only answer to give is “yes.”

If your answer offends, too bad because if you are unwilling to hear the answer, then don’t ask the question.

Simple.

Not everyone is ready to adopt, or even be around, The Habit of Being Forthright but for those who are its powers are absolute.

Adhering to this habit also means that you forfeit your right to be hurt or offended when the questions you pose do not elicit the responses you desire.

Being adult is understanding and accepting that the truth, even when painful, always beats the alternative, although at the time it may not feel that way.

That does not give one license to blatantly criticize or look for fault, it simply means that we always say what we believe to be true and expect reciprocal treatment from others.

The Habit of Being Forthright clears our conscience for it enables us to say what we believe without having to ever walk on eggshells.

A really neat benefit of acquiring this habit is that in a very short period of time fewer and fewer people will be asking your opinion about frivolous matters.

And only good things can come from that.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

127. It changed Dale’s life and it will change yours.

For the past two weeks we have been discussing the benefits of The Habit of Mindfulness and yesterday morning I received a call from Dale who phoned to say he firmly believes he owes his life to that very habit.

Dale described himself as a 67-year-old Type A personality with off–the–charts blood pressure that placed him right at the front of the line for being at high risk of medical catastrophe.

Dale has been taking medication for more than 12 years in an attempt to control his blood pressure. He recognized that his challenge was exacerbated by his ever increasing weight which was heading dangerously close to 300 pounds.

That’s a lot of weight for a 5’7″ person to carry.

About two years ago a work colleague introduced him to the notion of taking short breaks throughout the day in order to, in Dale’s words, “chill out, think of absolutely nothing and relax.

At first Dale found this extremely difficult and as his mind kept refusing to participate he spent only a few moments in quiet solitude before going back to what he had been doing.

If nothing else Dale is persistent and he kept practising The Habit of Mindfulness.

It didn’t take long for his skillset to improve and he found himself able to retain states of true peacefulness and relaxation for several minutes at a time and, with continued practice, for as long as he wished.

And then an interesting thing happened.

As Dale began spending three or four 5 to 15 minute periods of calm, relaxed “non-focus” every day he began to feel better.

And as he began to feel better he started to take stock of his very being.

He decided to reclaim his life and health and slowly began a new lifestyle which included focusing on healthy foods, regular exercise and, of course continuing to become a better practitioner of The Habit of Mindfulness.

As peacefulness and calm, replaced the stress in his life Dale accelerated his effort to re-create himself.

Within six months he had lost some 75 pounds and after one year, having plunged below the 200 pound mark, his doctor took him off of his blood pressure medication.

Dale sent over two photos of himself. One was taken four years ago and the other yesterday morning.

In staring at those two photos I found it difficult to reconcile the fact that I was looking at two photographs of the same person.

Dale is trim, healthy-looking and exudes both confidence and serenity.

He will tell you that the key to his acquiring and retaining his new life lay in his commitment to a healthy lifestyle but that behind their commitment was a catalyst – The Habit of Mindfulness – which allowed him, for the first time in his life, the opportunity of experiencing and feeling at peace, calm, unstressed and relaxed.

And it was those feelings that led him to undertake the changes that have brought about the Dale of today.

The Habit of Mindfulness provides us with benefits beyond anything we could possibly imagine.

If it is true that mindfulness is about being present then the greatest present you can give yourself is ownership of The Habit of Mindfulness.

Can you think of even one possible reason for not doing this?

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

127. It changed Dale’s life and it will change yours.

For the past two weeks we have been discussing the benefits of The Habit of Mindfulness and yesterday morning I received a call from Dale who phoned to say he firmly believes he owes his life to that very habit.

Dale described himself as a 67-year-old Type A personality with off–the–charts blood pressure that placed him right at the front of the line for being at high risk of medical catastrophe.

Dale has been taking medication for more than 12 years in an attempt to control his blood pressure. He recognized that his challenge was exacerbated by his ever increasing weight which was heading dangerously close to 300 pounds.

That’s a lot of weight for a 5’7″ person to carry.

About two years ago a work colleague introduced him to the notion of taking short breaks throughout the day in order to, in Dale’s words, “chill out, think of absolutely nothing and relax.

At first Dale found this extremely difficult and as his mind kept refusing to participate he spent only a few moments in quiet solitude before going back to what he had been doing.

If nothing else Dale is persistent and he kept practising The Habit of Mindfulness.

It didn’t take long for his skillset to improve and he found himself able to retain states of true peacefulness and relaxation for several minutes at a time and, with continued practice, for as long as he wished.

And then an interesting thing happened.

As Dale began spending three or four 5 to 15 minute periods of calm, relaxed “non-focus” every day he began to feel better.

And as he began to feel better he started to take stock of his very being.

He decided to reclaim his life and health and slowly began a new lifestyle which included focusing on healthy foods, regular exercise and, of course continuing to become a better practitioner of The Habit of Mindfulness.

As peacefulness and calm, replaced the stress in his life Dale accelerated his effort to re-create himself.

Within six months he had lost some 75 pounds and after one year, having plunged below the 200 pound mark, his doctor took him off of his blood pressure medication.

Dale sent over two photos of himself. One was taken four years ago and the other yesterday morning.

In staring at those two photos I found it difficult to reconcile the fact that I was looking at two photographs of the same person.

Dale is trim, healthy-looking and exudes both confidence and serenity.

He will tell you that the key to his acquiring and retaining his new life lay in his commitment to a healthy lifestyle but that behind their commitment was a catalyst – The Habit of Mindfulness – which allowed him, for the first time in his life, the opportunity of experiencing and feeling at peace, calm, unstressed and relaxed.

And it was those feelings that led him to undertake the changes that have brought about the Dale of today.

The Habit of Mindfulness
provides us with benefits beyond anything we could possibly imagine.

If it is true that mindfulness is about being present then the greatest present you can give yourself is ownership of The Habit of Mindfulness.

Can you think of even one possible reason for not doing this?

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

126. Start spreading the word.

Boy, did I receive an education this week.

Last week I introduced The Habit of Mindfulness and a lot of people have called, texted or emailed to share their experiences with this practice.

One of the callers was a lady who described herself as a “Human Efficiency Expert”. Never having heard this designation I naturally inquired as to what exactly that means.

She explained to me that for the past 27 years her job has been to work with senior managers and executives of her employer’s clients to assist them in becoming more productive and more effective in their roles.

She went on to say that for many of her clients, their ability to consistently produce at very high levels while exhibiting great creativity in their thinking has had a profound impact on the heights to which they can aspire in their careers. Failure to produce the expected levels is career limiting if not career ending.

Sarah went on to explain that there are countless studies that have extolled the benefits of taking time away from what we do and permitting ourselves to enjoy ourselves.

Finding a few minutes to sit quietly, focus on our breathing, and allowing ourselves to relax and not allow the thoughts from what we have just left – the project at hand – to enter our minds has proven enormously beneficial to her clients.

She acknowledged that there is somewhat of a learning curve to be able to still one’s mind but the very act of relaxing and focussing on our breathing does wonders in recharging and reenergizing our bodies.

She told me several stories of how this technique and practice had proven to be of enormous value to her clients and, indeed, she commented that the frantic pace of her own life would have caused her much anxiety over the years were it not for her own dedication to daily practice of The Habit of Mindfulness.

My friend Ron swears that his wife’s rheumatoid arthritis has become far more manageable and that her incidence of pain has been reduced since he introduced her to The Habit of Mindfulness some nine months ago.

I know many readers will scoff at Ron’s comments as being nothing more than unsubstantiated anecdotes but my own sense is that even if the only benefit to his wife was derived from a belief that practising The Habit of Mindfulness was beneficial, then I hope she continues to do so.

Perhaps the effect is merely placebo-like and I’m all for placebos when they do the job.

I personally counsel my own clients to take time each day to do this and it is so interesting how after a few short days or weeks, they excitedly report of a stronger sense of connection to what they are doing, a renewed commitment to excellence and a noticeable improvement in large tasks completed.

In my own life I am convinced that my daily practice of The Habit of Mindfulness serves to keep me focused, energized and extremely happy with my lot in life.

For those of you who are practitioners please keep those calls, texts and emails coming and keep spreading the word. The more people we can introduce to The Habit of Mindfulness the more people there will be whose lives are on a path of continuous improvement.

Spreading the word of The Habit of Mindfulness is a worthwhile endeavor.

Let’s all do it.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

125. Just relax.

As more and more books are published espousing the enormous benefits of meditation and we are exposed to increasing numbers of celebrities proclaiming its benefits, it seems the perfect time to introduce The Habit of Mindfulness.

I have completed several meditation programs, attended workshops, read is much as I could get my hands on and yet have never seemed quite able to attain the states of inner silence and peacefulness the gurus speak of.

I, along with several friends, have all developed what we call The Habit of Mindfulness which simply means setting aside two or three short – 5 to 10 minutes – periods every day to just sit quietly and be as calm as possible while focussing on nothing more than our own breathing.

Those friends and I have all abandoned attempts at “clearing our minds” as we have all experienced the seemingly impossible task of preventing random, unsolicited thoughts and chatter popping into our heads and occupying our consciousness while we are trying our darnedest to empty our minds of any thoughts.

I have on many occasions spoken with regular meditation aficionados who tell me that with practice and patience perfect stillness and thoughtlessness is attainable. My wife will attest to the fact that while I frequently practice the thoughtlessness part, the stillness is something I’ve never been able to achieve during my many attempts at meditation.

In discussing the benefits of The Habit of Mindfulness with those friends we all agree we have experienced significant and valuable benefits which, in addition to an amazing feeling of relaxation, includes feelings of being reenergized, a calming effect that better equips us to manage the daily stresses of life and, on occasion, the sudden awareness of a long sought after solution to an existing challenge or problem.

Personally, having the attention span of a gnat. I find 10 minutes is about all my mind will allow before it takes off wildly in search of excitement and adventure.

Every six weeks I attend a clinic at which I receive medication administered by IV over a 2 to 3 hour period.

The clinic is an extremely relaxed place and each patient lounges comfortably in a recliner while receiving their drugs.

The protocol requires that blood pressure be taken several times and I’ve made it a practice to test the benefits of The Habit of Mindfulness by practising for the approximately 10 minutes between the first and second times my blood pressure is taken.

I have been blessed with perfectly normal blood pressure and yet each time I do this I have noticed the number of the second reading have been markedly lower than the first.

I’ve been practising The Habit of Mindfulness for so long now that I no longer need to remind myself to set aside 10 minutes to do so.

My body does this for me by gently nudging me at certain times throughout the day to set aside everything I’m doing, sit comfortably in the chair and, well, just do nothing.

For those of you who would really like an energy boost during the day and prefer to do so without Red Bull I would highly suggest you adopt The Habit of Mindfulness.

It may take a little while before you begin to benefit from the few minutes spent in solitude but it is one of those things that after you have experienced its rewards once you will want to do so again, and again.

I know many of you already do something similar and I would love to hear from you. Please share with me the benefits you have received from this type of practice and for those of you willing to give it a try, The Habit of Mindfulness is one to which you will quickly become addicted and this is the kind of addiction you will want to carry with you for the rest of your life.

Enjoy.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.