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Feeling Tired? Need Energy? Here are 9 Ways to Get Charged Up

Strategies and goals

Energy to spare

In a recent e-mail to me, a correspondent talked about the problem of not having energy left after her daytime obligations:

My major problem is I have some studying to do and I am not able to do anything once I am back home. I am so tired. I’m basically brain dead too. I need the weekend to recuperate and so I am not productive at all during the weekend.

It’s a common problem: most of us seem to have days when the energy we want to have just isn’t there. Here are nine approaches that can help dredge up energy when no energy seems to be available.

1. Are you getting enough sleep? (See How Much Sleep Do You Need? 8 Hours Isn’t for Everyone) If not, are there ways you can get more, for instance by giving up a small amount of recreation time?

2. If worry is tiring you out, there are some things you can do to relieve the worry and leave more energy for getting things done. These include idea repair (see How to Detect Broken Ideas, How to Repair a Broken Idea, Step by Step, and Examples of Broken Ideas (Cognitive Distortions)), meditation (see Strengthen Willpower Through Meditation), brief walks in natural surroundings (see The Benefits of Quick, Easy, Pleasant Exercise), talking with a trusted friend or family member about worries you have, and writing in journals. Worry not only saps energy, but also makes it harder to use what energy you do have for constructive things.

3. Try to get into flow (see Flow: What It Feels Like to Be Perfectly Motivated and Some Steps for Getting into a State of Flow), a state where you’re concentrating fully on what you’re doing. Even if you feel tired at the beginning, if you really get deeply involved in a task that interests you, you can start feeling energized by the task itself.

4. Choose things to eat that will make you feel good in the short term. Of course this tends to mean whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lean protein. Fats take a lot of digestive energy to break down and tend to make a person feel groggy, as does eating too much. Sugars tend to give a quick boost and then drop a person into a low that’s a good bit more tired than they were before the sugar high. Caffeine also tends to give a boost at one point but take much more out later. Drink enough water to ensure you’re not dehydrated: dehydration is a common cause of fatigue, as detailed in this article on the Psychology Today site. The article also contains other good anti-fatigue eating advice, like getting plenty of iron.

Of course it’s difficult to make healthy eating choices sometimes, but it can help to think about wanting to feel good right away from good food choices instead of thinking more of their long-term benefits, (though of course the long-term benefits are great, too).

5. Work yourself into an excited state about a project. Again this tends to mean talking to someone or writing about the project. This is similar to getting into flow, as it engages your mind and your interest and wakes you up.

6. Put on music that gives you a lift (see How and Why Music Changes Mood).

7. Think about things that make you happy. Reflecting on good things that happened to you over the last day, anticipating something you’re looking forward to doing soon, or thinking about someone whose company you really enjoy can make your mood more buoyant.

8. Tidy up. If your environment is messy or chaotic, you may tend to feel a little exhausted just being in it from the constant, low-level annoyance of clutter or mess. (See How Tools and Environment Make Work into Play, Part II: Letting Your Environment Help You.)

9. Meditate, or sit still for a short while. Meditation (see Strengthen Willpower Through Meditation) can help release tension and create calm and focus. If you’re not experienced in meditation, one easy way to start is with this 15-Minute Online Guided Meditation from Kelly McGonigal. Just sitting still gives you a chance to relax and let go. If you take this approach, don’t try to do anything, keep TV and music off, and just gaze out the window.

Photo by eMotionblogster karolien taverniers

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Why Lousy Is a Great Place to Start

Handling negative emotions

I’m reading a book called Start Where You Are by Pema Chödrön, an American Buddhist nun, about meditation, coming to terms with suffering (our own and others’), and connecting to the world in a compassionate way. Much of the book is about meditative and partly spiritual practices that I won’t go into here, but there’s one particular section where she says something very striking that applies equally well to any process of self-improvement:

Start where you are. This is very important. [Meditation practice] is not about later, when you get it all together and you’re this person you really respect. You may be the most violent person in the world–that’s a fine place to start. That’s a very rich place to start–juicy, smelly. You might be the most depressed person in the world, the most addicted person in the world, the most jealous person in the world. You might think that there are no others on the planet who hate themselves as much as you do. All of that is a good place to start. Just where you are—that’s the place to start.

And later, she continues:

Suppose you are involved in a horrific relationship: every time you think of a particular person you get furious. That is very useful for tonglen [the practice the book describes]! Or perhaps you feel depressed. It was all you could do to get out of bed today. You’re so depressed that you want to stay in bed for the rest of your life; you have considered hiding under your bed. That is very useful for tonglen practice. The specific fixation should be real, just like that.

She goes on to describe how to harness these emotions in meditation, but the point I’d like to make is that they’re essential to any process of improving your life through changing the way you think. There are a few reasons for this. First, feelings like this that go unacknowledged tend to continue to torment us, because if we don’t take them in and really pay attention to how we’re experiencing them, we only have our habitual ways of responding to them, which won’t change anything (by definition, because habits are what we automatically do already). Second, if I’m going to improve my life, why should I wait for a time when I feel better? If I’m feeling bad now, then now is when improvement would be the most welcome, and there’s nothing preventing me from improving more when I feel better some other time too. And third, as Chödrön points out, strong negative emotions have a lot of juice. Someone who doesn’t feel excited (in a good or a bad way) about anything much at the moment doesn’t have a strong emotional incentive to change their lives. Someone who’s feeling something strong, whether it’s delight or love or anger or despair, has an immediate emotional reason to change things for the better.

Chödrön has specific recommendations for using negative emotions in meditation practice, and for anyone interested in Buddhist meditation, I strongly suggest the book for that purpose. For our intentions here, though, there are also specific ways we can harness negative emotions. In tomorrow’s post, I’ll talk about how to use pain and trouble to repair broken ideas.

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15-Minute Online Guided Meditation from Kelly McGonigal


Psychologist and yoga teacher Kelly McGonigal, PhD has posted a very useful resource for anyone interested in trying out or beginning to practice meditation. On her blog, Science and Sutras, you can find a 15-minute, guided, sitting meditation that you can do at your computer while listening to the MP3 file she has posted here:

Basic guided meditation practices like this one are an easy and effective way to start meditating, a practice that pretty much anyone can learn and pretty much anyone can benefit from. Some of the payoffs to regular meditation (or even, heck, sporadic meditation) include relaxation, stress relief, increased focus, serenity, and perspective. I go on at more length about the benefits of meditation in my article “Strengthen Willpower Through Meditation,” which also offers some other resources you can use to get started or to learn more about the subject.

In addition to her Science and Sutras blog, Dr. McGonigal offers good material on her Twitter Feed and in her The Science of Willpower blog on the Psychology Today Web site. (And if you’re adding Twitter feeds, you may be interested in my own, quieter one at .)

Photo by Vitó


Tools for Feeling Better, Part I

Handling negative emotions

I’ve mentioned in some recent articles that I’m doing my best to remember and make good use of whatever tools I have to make good choices. Some of the most useful tools of this kind are for getting past negative emotions: anger, depression, frustration, anxiety, avoidance, despair, and so on.

Here are five of the best tools I know of for handling bad states of mind. I’ll post another article or two in the near future with more.

Idea repair: Negative emotions that keep going even when no new bad things are happening are usually maintained by specific kinds of thoughts (as talked about, for instance, in Jenefer Robinson’s book Deeper Than Reason: Emotion and Its Role in Literature, Music, and Art). Idea repair, called “cognitive restructuring” in psychology circles, is the process of detecting flawed thoughts and reframing them so that they become constructive and stop causing pain.

Mindfulness: A key ingredient in sorting out negative emotions and one of the requirements for idea repair and other positive processes, mindfulness is simply being aware of what’s going on both around and inside us. We can’t be mindful all the time, but there are certainly situations in which we become more sane, happy, focused, and relaxed just by using this one idea.

Meditation: Although some people meditate for spiritual reasons, others do it just for the immediate personal payoff in serenity, self-awareness, and clarity. It’s not difficult to get started.

Understanding schemas: Mental schemas are flawed patterns of thinking and behavior that are usually learned when we are young but stick with us into adulthood, often causing trouble for us on a daily basis. There are a variety of them, including, for example, Abandonment, Mistrust, and Emotional deprivation. If we find any schemas in ourselves, we can learn to understand and overcome those schemas, clearing away a lot of emotional drag and clutter in the process.

Emotional antidotes: Buddhist inquiry into human emotion, which is a time-honored and conscientious tradition, has come up with some kinds of emotional experiences that can be used to reverse negative emotions. I explain something of how this works in my article “Antidotes to bad moods and negative emotions.”

For more tools, see the follow-up articles: Part II and Part III.

Photo by Michael Flick

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Everything Sucks. Reboot? Y/N

Handling negative emotions

Every once in a while, I have a day where enough seems to have gone wrong that I’m lodged deep in a lousy mood. Sometimes I’m not clever enough to be aware of this right away, so it persists until mindfulness finally kicks in with something to the effect of “You’re in a bad mood, and there is no reason for it unless it’s somehow helping you. Is it helping?”

It generally isn not helping. So I try to find my way out of that lousy mood using one of the techniques in this post.

The human brain is not very much like a computer. It changes its own structure constantly, stores information in locations scattered throughout the brain, and even runs two different systems (one neural and mostly cognitive, the other chemical and mostly emotional) at the same time. There’s more on this in my article about science fiction and the human brain at Clarkesworld.

But even though the brain doesn’t work the way computers do in many respects, it is capable of reboots: shutting down everything that’s currently running–including bad moods–and starting from scratch. However, reboots are not always easy. There are at least two things that get in the way.

The first is called “mood congruity”: this is the tendency of human beings to have trouble really imagining any emotional situation other than the one they’re already in. If you’re in a bad mood and you picture enjoying a nice walk outside, chances are it will be difficult for you to believe in your gut that the walk will be enjoyable–even if you have every reason to think it will be, and even if it generally has been under similar circumstances in the past. Whatever mood we’re in, we tend to imagine the future fitting the same mood. This is one reason the advice “Cheer up! Things will get better” often sounds so hollow. Mood congruity can be overcome, but it’s helpful to realize that the way our brians work, they’re a little limited at imagining an emotion while experiencing a contrary emotion.

Another barrier is that generally speaking, any mental control we have over our emotions happens by thinking (cognition), but cognition can change much more quickly than emotion, because so much of emotion has to do with chemicals like dopamine, cortisol, oxytocin, adrenaline, and others. The chemical states that influence our brains aren’t capable of changing nearly as quickly as our thoughts. We can go from thinking about a horrible tragedy to thinking about a really funny joke and back all within seconds, but our emotional state would not be able to keep up. This means that any mental effort to change mood needs to be kept up for a minute or two at least to allow emotions to catch up with cognition. It also means that idea repair doesn’t have its full effect right away, a subject I’ll be tackling in another article soon.

Knowing the obstacles, what are the techniques we can use to reboot our brains? Well, computers can go through a “warm boot” (rebooting through software only) or a “cold boot” (physically restarting the computer), and the same is true of our brains. A mental cold boot can be accomplished with techniques that completely clear out what’s going on in our minds. Two excellent approaches for this are meditation (which narrows focus to a very specific subject while letting everything else kind of float away) and exercise (which creates a physiological state that tends to help us cut back to a minimum of thinking).

Techniques for warm boots change attention, immediate experience, and/or thinking. Idea repair is one very useful means to do a warm boot. Other methods include emotional antidotes; visualization; and getting into a flow state (or at least distracted by something interesting for a bit).

Regardless of which method you use, rebooting takes attention, effort, and a little time. However, it often doesn’t take any more than that, and while not every bad mood can be banished in minutes, many of them can.

Photo by rofreg

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How to enjoy the dullest tasks

States of mind

I’ve mentioned before in posts like Some Steps for Getting into a State of Flow how even as seemingly unappealing a job as doing the dishes can be not only easier, but in fact enjoyable under the right circumstances. Here are some specific ways to enjoy drudgery:

1. Get into flow. Flow is a highly focused state when we are working hard to do something exceptionally well, using all of our attention. Getting into a flow state requires knowing what you’re doing, having minimal interruption, having a specific (and challenging) goal in mind, and having some way to judge how well you’re doing. World-class violinists, writers, programmers, physicists, tennis players, and highly accomplished people with all kinds of other specialties get into it often, but it can be done as well with very humble tasks. How quickly can the dishes be washed, or how perfectly, or with how little wasted water, or how quietly? See Some Steps for Getting into a State of Flow for more information on this.

 2. If the task doesn’t require much attention, use the opportunity to focus your attention on something you really like. This was what I did today, listening intently on headphones to songs for which I wanted to learn the words. I was literally disappointed when I ran out of dishes to wash and had to stop. Some other activities I’ve done that have made dishwashing really enjoyable have been talking with a visiting friend, singing, helping with my son’s homework, talking on the phone (using a headset phone), and even watching movies on a laptop set up behind the sink.

3. Simultaneously do something else useful. Our brains are designed to pay attention to only one thing at a time, but if the chore in question doesn’t require much attention, it’s sometimes possible to get something else done as you’re cleaning dishes or dusting. An example of multitasking while doing the laundry comes up in my post How to Multitask, and When Not To.

3. Use the time to think. If your life tends toward the hectic, with few opportunities to reflect, allowing your mind to wander onto whatever subjects most interest you as you vacuum or clean dishes can provide a welcome respite. To do this, it’s necessary to give up on any kind of resentment about doing the dishes and to point your mind in useful directions if it gets caught up in unimportant details.

4. Meditate. Meditation means narrowing our attention to a very specific thought or experience. Focusing intently on just the sensory details of washing the dishes–the feel of the water, the splashing sounds, and so on–can provide a means of meditating that can aid relaxation, alertness, and serenity, and the same can be achieved with vacuuming or any other household chore that doesn’t require any significant amount of thought to accomplish. The trick with this is to get used to focusing the mind back on only the sensory details whenever it wanders onto another subject. As with flow, this isn’t a useful strategy in high-interruption situations.

Photo by Nicholas Smale


How to Make Self-Motivation Easier, Part II

Strategies and goals, Uncategorized


In my previous article, I offered four ways to make self-motivation easier, and talked about stacking up advantages ahead of time instead of waiting to come face to face with a difficult situation. Here I’ll cover five more ways to make self-motivation easier: building up enthusiasm, being more mentally and physically prepared to face challenges, getting help from others, learning, and minimizing temptation.

Visualize and find your enthusiasm
When things are going well, I’m not distracted, and I have time to think about what I want to do, I’m often in a good state of mind to improve my motivation, but by definition these low-demand times tend to be ones when not much motivation is needed. I can build up motivation for harder times by using these opportunities to visualize where I’m trying to get and by otherwise spending time thinking about and especially enjoying my goal, whether I’m reflecting on successes so far, enjoying progress, envisioning future payoffs, or planning ahead. The more time I spend thinking positively about my goal, the more accessible positive thoughts about it will be when I really need them. For instance, if I’m trying to learn to play a musical instrument, I can visualize myself playing it and remind myself why I’m putting in all the hard work.

Take care of yourself
When we get enough sleep, exercise regularly, eat well, and use techniques like meditation to aid mood and mental focus, we’re much more capable of being proactive in our lives than when we are tired, inactive, badly nourished, overstuffed, or carrying around a lot of stress. Mood and physical well-being have an important impact on making good decisions, so everything we can do to improve them will tend to improve  motivation, too.

Get support
Connecting with a friend or family member to talk about your goals, the problems you’re running into, your plans, and your successes is a good way to keep your goal more in mind and to process your thoughts about it. Having someone in your corner can also make it more important to to do well and provides more options if something starts going wrong. A person trying to quit a bad habit can go talk to a supporter when temptation seems particularly strong. Someone trying to get a better job can talk through their plans and strategies if they have a sympathetic ear.

Read, learn
Reading about subjects having to do with our goals serves several purposes at once: it gives us more information to use when making plans; keeps our goal more in our mind; lets us try on others’ ideas; and serves as a physical reminder (whenever we see the book) of what’s being accomplished. Someone trying to get fit can learn a lot from books about nutrition and exercise, like The 9 Truths About Weight Loss. Anyone trying to change habits and running into emotional resistance can benefit from books like Emotional Alchemy, The Feeling Good Handbook, or A Guide to Rational Living.

Minimize temptation
Finally, minimizing temptation can be a real boon, at least in the short term, for anyone who’s really struggling with making the right choices. If you’re working on spending money wisely, you can take any savings you have and put it in a CD or some other instrument that makes it difficult or impossible to withdraw for a time. Someone who’s trying to quit playing video games can actually sell the games rather than hanging on to them to play just a little bit now and then.

This approach is a bit of a crutch, and the problem with relying too much on it is that when a situation comes up where there is temptation–for instance, when the person working on spending gets a tax refund, or when the former video game player is staying with a friend who has a top-notch video game system–the strategies to deal with the temptation may not be very well developed. But like all of these strategies, minimizing temptation–if not relied on absolutely–can help make everything simpler.

Photo by James Jordan

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Don’t Feel Motivated? 10 Ways to Find Motivation Right Now

States of mind

Owl taking flight

If you don’t feel motivated right now, are you at the mercy of your brain chemistry, washed in and out of motivation on tides of dopamine and adrenaline and all the rest? In a word … no. There’s no magical way to ensure you’ll always be motivated, but there are some simple things you can do at practically any time to get motivation running.

Before I talk about those specific tactics, I want to be sure to mention that reading this article alone isn’t likely to get you motivated, but doing one or more of the things this article describes can help quite a bit. Knowing something isn’t the same as acting on what you know –though there is one exception, which I’ll mention.

Without further ado, then, here are 10 things you can do to get motivated right now, each supported by substantial research.

  1. Get a little exercise. It may sound unappealingly healthy, but research strongly supports the idea that even a 10-minute walk can make you more alert and energetic, and can improve your mood quickly.
  2. If something’s bothering you, fix your thoughts. Often we hold ourselves back by delivering a negative running commentary of broken ideas. You can detect and repair these broken ideas: click on the links for the step-by-step details.
  3. Visualize a result you like. If you have a task in front of you that you might not enjoy doing but will definitely enjoy having done, take a few moments to visualize what it will be like when you’re finished. Picture handing in the research paper early (and the shocked expression on your professor’s face), or the clean kitchen you’ll have, or the items that will disappear from your To Do list or inbox, or whatever other result you want to achieve. Spend a little time in the future enjoying what you’ve done, then come back to the present and start doing it.
  4. Just stand up. Momentum can be invaluable in making progress, and sometimes we work too hard trying to talk ourselves out of getting any momentum going. Ignore your own objections or complaints about the task at hand and concentrate on some very easy first step, like standing up and walking over to the filing cabinet, or looking up the phone number you’ll need to call, or putting on your shoes.
  5. Meditate. Honestly, try it–even if it’s “not your thing.” Meditation can pay off immediately by relieving stress and improving focus. If you don’t know how to meditate already, this article points you to online resources that can have you meditating within half an hour. You don’t even have to do a great job of it: even a little success at meditating can provide benefits now.
  6. Remember why it’s important. If you already have something in mind to do, spend a few minutes thinking about why it’s important to you. Does it provide a much-needed paycheck? Strengthen a relationship? Keep you on track to do something you love? Promote your happiness? Help your kids or your spouse be healthy and safe?
  7. Write down some reasons to do it. Grab a piece of paper or pull up a blank word processing document and write out why it is you want to do the thing or things you’re not doing. (You can also do this in your head, but writing it down can have a stronger effect.) Also list the immediate benefits. What do you get out of doing the thing right now? Peace of mind? Improvements in the space around you? A better mood? A stronger sense of purpose and self-reliance? More?
  8. If you feel overwhelmed, focus on one thing. Our brains are only physically capable of focusing on one thing at a time. Therefore, even if there are a lot of things that may be clamoring for your attention, you will be rising to the greatest possible level of responsibility if you just 1) figure out which one is most important to do now, and 2) get started on that one. All the others can be ignored until it’s their time.
  9. Talk or write it out. Talking with someone supportive or writing down your thoughts journal-style can help clarify what your obstacles are or what it is you really want to be doing, and why.
  10. Find inspiration. This is the situation I mentioned where just reading something can sometimes improve motivation. You can also get inspiration by other means, like talking with someone who inspires you. If you know of anything or anyone that will help you focus on what you want to do and get you fired up, go drink from that well. Alternatively, reflect on a time when you did well at the thing you’re about to attempt: remember how it felt to succeed at it. Inspiration isn’t always available whenever it’s wanted, and it doesn’t always work, but when it does work it can propel you forward.

Photo by ChrisBravoTown


Knowing Isn’t Enough: The 4 Steps Between Knowledge and Action

Strategies and goals

crossingKelly McGonigal recently Tweeted about a British Psychological Society post in which psychologists talk about things they still don’t understand about themselves. It’s really interesting reading, but the particular thing that I connected with was University of Texas psychologist David Buss saying “One nagging thing that I still don’t understand about myself is why I often succumb to well-documented psychological biases, even though I’m acutely aware of these biases … One would think that explicit knowledge of these well-documented psychological biases and years of experience with them would allow a person to cognitively override the biases. But they don’t.”

I know why Buss sometimes fails to act according to things he knows perfectly well, and yet I do the same thing myself, for instance a couple of weeks ago when I had a serious communication breakdown that I later saw wouldn’t have been a problem if I’d  used all of the communication skills I’d been learning for years (see Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High or Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life). Actually, that’s the whole point of this post: just knowing something about how our minds work is not the same thing as using that knowledge.

So what’s the gap between knowing and doing? There are actually four gaps. Lucky for us, none of them is very wide.

1. Noticing opportunities to use the knowledge
The first step is a kind of mindfulness: in order to use, say, a communication skill, I need to be thinking about my communication as I’m doing it so that I can notice, “Hey, here’s a great opportunity to summarize my friend’s concerns!” Mindfulness can be improved with tools like meditation, feedback loops, and decision logging.

2. Understanding how to apply the knowledge
It’s good for me to know that I should try to summarize a person’s concerns back to them, but I need to know more than that abstract idea: I need to know how I go about it, perhaps having a step-by-step method I can use to apply the information I have, or some test I can use on my intended behavior to see if it would fit the information.

3. Surrendering objections
By definition habits are hard to change, and if you’re trying to act a different way, you’re trying to change a habit. Changing habits usually means giving something up, for example pride, less-than-ideal strategies you’ve been using for years, or defensiveness. In my case, if I want to make sure the person I’m talking to knows they’ve been heard and understood, I have to give up the impulse to do a critique of what they just said and instead be willing to understand first, react second. People are much more comfortable hearing someone else’s ideas when they know for sure that their own ideas have already made it across.

4. Making the effort
Putting a piece of knowledge into play requires conscious effort: there’s usually nothing automatic about it. Effort means a decision to devote at least a little bit of time and attention at the right moments to using the knowledge.

In an article on learning and the brain, I talk about how acting on knowledge helps us learn it better. For this article or any piece of knowledge you gain that might be useful, it can make all the difference to use it as soon as possible, several times, both in order to get used to the specific skill and to fix it in your brain. If we don’t go out of our way to bridge the four gaps between information and action–noticing opportunities, understanding how, surrendering objections, and making the effort–then the knowledge isn’t any more useful in our heads than it is left on the page, unread.

Photo by magnusfranklin


Strengthen Willpower Through Meditation

Strategies and goals


In past articles (How To Improve Willpower Through Writing Things Down: Decision Logging and How to Strengthen Willpower Through Practice), I’ve talked about things you can do to make willpower stronger. Today I’d like to talk about how doing nothing for at least 10 minutes a day can strengthen willpower and provide a lot of other benefits. Of course, I’m talking about meditation.

Benefits for here and now
Many people use meditation as a spiritual practice, which of course is great, but the benefits I’ll be talking about here have nothing to do with spirituality. When I meditate–even though I’m not especially good at it and have only been doing it seriously for a few months–my attention comes back to the present moment, tension drains away all by itself, and my mind becomes (intermittently) serene. I usually spend from 10 to 25 minutes in the morning, but the effects ripple out through the rest of my waking hours. On days when I meditate, I usually feel less conflicted, less distracted, more focused, and more at peace. On days when I don’t, I’m more likely to be struggling with myself. It’s not a big, dramatic change in how my day feels–at least, not for me–but it is an important change. The difference is most obvious when I look back and see what I’ve accomplished and how I feel about the day.

How meditation helps
The way meditation strengthens willpower is by providing a calmer and more balanced state of mind. In the same way that a person who meditates is less likely to get sucked into dumb arguments with other people, they are also less likely to get sucked into dumb arguments with themselves about excuses for not exercising or about how we don’t want to apologize after accidentally creating a problem for someone.

As Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence (among other books) puts it in this article, “My own doctoral dissertation found (as have many others since) that the practice of meditation seems to speed the rate of physiological recovery from a stressful event. A string of studies have now established that more experienced meditators recover more quickly from stress-induced physiological arousal than do novices.”

Good ways to learn how to meditate online, with books, or with audio
Meditation is easy to learn, and it doesn’t involve any particularly mystical or mysterious techniques. It does take practice to clear away mental clutter and experience a clear mind for more than a few moments at a time, but the benefits come even if most of your meditation is spent realizing that you’re getting distracted.

You can begin to learn to meditate in just half an hour or so. Mary Jaksch of Goodlife Zen offered some good resources for getting started: there’s her own article How to Meditate: 10 Important Tips as well the Zen Mountain Monastery page Zen Meditation Instructions . You may also be interested in the article here on this site, “15-Minute Online Guided Meditation from Kelly McGonigal.”

Or you could go to your local library or bookstore and find books or audiobooks by Jon Kabat-Zinn, who teaches medicine at the University of Massachusetts, and whose life’s work is teaching mindfulness meditation and stress reduction. For example, he has an audiobook called Guided Mindfulness Meditation that offers easy and very effective meditations for increasing mindfulness and relieving stress.

Photo by premasagar

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