Our problems are caused by being 'here' but wanting to be 'there'.

By Michael Mead, www.LiveWell.Coach | 29 April 2019

Our thoughts drive the way we feel which in turn drives the actions we take which in turn drives the outcomes and results that we get in life. It makes sense then that the problems that we don't enjoy dealing with in life are often caused by how we view ourselves, other people and the world around us. I believe that this is ultimately driven by the cumulative effect of the following:

  • Our false sense of self/identity (our ego).
  • Our values (what we value and fully attach our false sense of self/identity (ego) to and identify with).
  • Our past experiences and biased/skewed view of reality.
  • Our higher level biological need to avoid pain, seek pleasure and conserve energy which can cause us to over think and build ourselves up as special or better than others in order to repair and protect our false sense of self and what we value.

That last point is an important one because it demonstrates clearly that the claim that 'our mindset determines our values' is a non-sequitur. It's our biological need to take the path of least resistance to avoid pain and seek pleasure that causes the cumulative effect of all four points above to be the pre-cursor and ultimate cause of unhelpful and self-focused thinking and the problems that flow from that.

When we're suffering under this cumulative effect we become distracted from the present moment and, to varying degrees, stuck living, through our overthinking, in the past or in the future, and delusional about the reality of the situations we find ourselves in.

This is because what we focus on we feel and subconsciously we feel lacking or insufficient whenever we compare where we are in the present moment to where we think we should be in terms of whatever our false sense of identity has attached itself to and fully valued and identified with.

And this problem appears to be getting worse with social media and the rising rate of youth suicide in the western world. Many people appear to have become preoccupied with how their 'selfies' look and how many 'likes' they're getting on Instagram or Facebook and with their attachment to appearance, validation, and instant gratification - things that aren't permanent and beyond immediate control.

So ultimately my claim is that our ability to be present, through better understanding and management of those four factors listed above, is what actually drives the thoughts that we have and the sorts of problems that we face in life. 

The failure to be present, to effectively manage those factors that drive us away from presence, is the ultimate driver of negative emotion, poor relationships, high turnover, poor performance, depression, poor decisions, and, at the darker end of the scale, and unfortunately for some, mental illness and suicide.

Through the exercises and activities that we do in our training we ask participants to rigorously test and disprove this claim and we show them a number of ways in which they can experience and test the truth of this for themselves. 

We show how to add effective objectivity to our values and how to apply the latest neuroscience backed techniques for re-orientating our attention back to the present moment so we can overcome this problem of overthinking, being self-focused, underperforming, feeling lacking, insufficient and insecure and communicating poorly.

When we're more present we become less needy, anxious and fearful and more:

  • Focused on how to best take action towards our goals.
  • Productive and efficient.
  • Aware of our own impact on the people around us.
  • Able to communicate effectively and manage conflict.
  • Helpful towards, and co-operative with, others.
  • Confident, consistent and stable.
  • Joyful, peaceful and compassionate.

The Harvard Study of Adult Development is one of the world’s longest studies of adult life and it has revealed, after following its participants for nearly 80 years which number now in excess of 1600, some clues to living a long, healthy and happy life: 

'Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives. Those ties protect people from life’s discontents, help to delay mental and physical decline, and are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ, or even genes.' (Harvard Gazette)

Other recent studies have shown that people are happier when their minds aren't wandering but focused on the tasks and activities that they are doing in that present moment (Harvard Gazette) and that 50-year-olds can have the brains of 25-year-olds if they sit quietly and do nothing for 15 minutes a day (Business Insider Australia).

It’s what we value in life and our ability to shift that harmful sustained focus and attention away from the past and future that’s the key to being present which is, in turn, the key to improving our mindsets, our relationships, and getting more out of life:

More productivity, innovation, collaboration, contribution, growth, better relationships and better thoughts, feelings, behaviours, and outcomes in life.

Find out more about our training and coaching:  www.livewell.coach.