In this special time we live in, we learned very quickly how important our well-being is. How we take care of ourselves is entirely up to us. No one else is going to do that for you. Not only are we aware of our physical health, we also can not live a good life without being mentally and emotionally stable. The pandemic has taken away many of our outlets. Where some went to the gym to release our daily stress, others went to the pub with friends to talk about how you were doing, while having fun at the same time and take your mind off everyday life. It is no longer available to us.
We are limited in expressing ourselves physically, emotionally and mentally. In my last newsletter I wrote about 10 practical things you can do to keep a healthy mind, body and soul at all times, whether there is a crisis or not.
Today I want to focus on how we can train our well-being and how to take responsibility in taking care of ourselves so we can keep flourishing as human beings.
It has been scientifically proven that applying the framework ACIP in our daily lives can help us to take better care of our well-being. As a coach I apply this framework in all of my coaching sessions. Every human being has the skills to train this and flourish. When we feel we can not, is when we are covered with a so called blanked, which at that moment makes it impossible for you to see things clearly.
Let me explain this framework to you. ACIP stands for Awareness, Connection, Insight and Purpose.
When we talk about awareness we talk about 2 different kinds of awareness. First is meta awareness. This is the ability to know what is happening in your own mind. For example the moment you are aware that your mind is wondering or that you notice a strong emotional reaction. You are taking a step back. You know what is going on in your body or mind.
The other form of awareness is the awareness of attention. This awareness is mainly influenced by external factors. For example; you get an alert on your phone and instantly you are drawn to it, now you are no longer present with what you were doing before.
Both kinds of awareness you can train. Awareness is key to well-being because it helps you understand yourself better. Becoming aware of how you work can be very helpful in dealing with life.
You can train yourself to become aware of your thoughts, emotions and physical well-being by using mindfulness techniques. An easy exercise I can give you is the 5 min check-in you can apply during the day. You take 5 minutes to sit and ask yourself:
- What am I thinking of? Can I observe my thoughts?
- How does my body feel? Do I feel any sensations?
- What kind of emotion can I detect? How am I feeling?
To train the awareness of attention it all comes down to regulating your focus. In case of the phone example earlier, you can choose to turn off your phone while you are in a meeting, during a conversation with your child or spouse, or in any other situation that requires your full attention. You can also think of replacing your negative thoughts with positive thoughts. Whenever you are stressed or worried about something and you notice your body is tense, train yourself to take 3 deep belly breaths and force yourself to think about something that you can gain from what you are worried about. It does not mean your worries will be gone, but you are training yourself that you have control of your own mind.
With both exercises you can start strengthening the awareness.
Connection is a very important pillar in our well-being. This is how we form healthy relationships. Not only are we talking about connection with other human beings but also about the connection with yourself and everything around us. The visible, like mother earth, but also the invisible energy around us that connects us all. The skills we can train to strengthen connection in our lives are appreciation, kindness, compassion and gratitude. For our well-being we need to connect to our true nature. To find out what our true nature is we have to sharpen our awareness first. When we become aware of who we are it is much easier to connect to what is real and feels like our true nature. Through appreciation, kindness, compassion and gratitude we can experience connection.
A few examples to exercise this are:
- Smile to each other
- Accept each others differences
- Express your appreciation more often. Let that special person know how much he or she means to you
- Practice having an open mind and heart. In the end we all desire the same things; happiness, love and freedom
- Begin and end your day in gratitude. Speak or write down what you are grateful for.
- Go for walks in nature as much as you can and be still. Soak in the beauty of mother earth through all your senses
- Treat the world around you like you want to be treated yourself
Another important pillar in our well-being is to know ourselves deeply and our place in the world. Our emotions, thoughts and beliefs are always shaping the way we perceive things. To become aware and have a deep understanding of who we are we need to have moments of self inquiry. We can trigger and sustain moments of insights by doing so.
We can simply do this by:
- Sharing and expressing
Another practical form is by using arts to enter your inner world. You do not have to be a good artist to use this method. You could dance, paint, draw, sing, play an instrument, photograph, or any other kind of crafts. It helps you to turn off the thinking mind and invite the subconscious to come forward.
Creating moments of insight will lead to great wisdom.
It is vital for our social and psychological well-being and our physical health to live with purpose. Even during everyday moments in life it is key to be able to orient yourself. To have purpose it means to understand your values, principles and what motivates you so you can make the right decision for yourself. It helps in small decision on what to eat, who to meet or when to pause. On a larger scale it helps you decide on who to love, where to live and which job to choose.
You can train to have purpose by getting clarity on your values, principles and what motivates you. A simple exercise could be
- To notify what you read
- Who you follow on Social Media
- Where do you stop scrolling and take time to read an article
- Which movies you like
- When you forget time speaking about something to a friend.
All these things have something in common which leads to what motivates you in life. What obviously interests you and is very important. The theme is mostly what motivates you in life. The theme can help you decide what suits you best.
If you take time to figure out all of the above, you will find you. The true nature of yourself that is already good enough. There is no reason for you to change who you are, you just need to acknowledge that you are wonderful already. When we stay ignorant to our wonderfulness we live in an illusion, a concept of who we are. This is called suffering. The only way out is to connect to your true nature; the aware, connected, compassionate and wise version of you. Start with yourself so our children can model us. This is the only way for us as human beings to step into a bright future and cherish this precious planet we live on.