Chris Wilkinson

Chris Wilkinson column: The most important things you start doing this year

The book is entitled, Think Like a Monk

By Chris Wilkinson

I just finished reading a great book and I want to tell you about it. Not just because it’s a quality read. Not just because you might appreciate the wisdom in it, but because it’s the single most important book I’ve read during the pandemic! And I think you might want to check it out. For entertainment? Nope. For casual interest? Nope. Because the author, Jay Shetty, outlines a few strategies that could be the most important practices you add to your life this year!

The book is entitled, Think Like a Monk, and it is divided in to three sections: ‘Let Go’ (identity, negativity, fear, ego); ‘Grow’ (purpose, routine, mindset and mindfulness); and ‘Give’ (gratitude, relationships, service). It really is a practical read too! Not so ‘woo woo’ for those that are new to mindset practices.

If you read my column regularly you already know how important I believe gratitude is. As I’ve said before, it’s not about being thankful and polite. It’s about having an actual practice of daily gratitude that is either scheduled into your schedule (or phone reminder!), or you have habit-stacked it with some other thing like your morning routine, or before eating. This is something author Jay Shetty talks about too — the importance of daily gratitude and what a shift it makes in our mindset and daily contentment. It’s as simple as this — if you want to be less anxious/stressed and more content — find a way to schedule gratitude practice in to each day! Simply list five to 10 things your grateful for each time, and feel it! Simple.

The next most important thing I took from this book (there are many gems!) is the different between my mind (impulsive, pleasure seeking, internal voice) versus my intellect (my thinking, reasoning brain) and how to quieten the impulsive side to allow the thoughtful, reasoning brain to prevail. Shetty talks about the ‘Monkey Mind’ vs the ‘Monk Mind’. Monkey Mind is characterised by overwhelm, compare/complain/criticize, distraction and over-thinking, short-term gratification, amplified fear, etc. The Monk Mind is where we want to be: living intentionally, being more aware and present, compassionate/caring/collaborate, disciplined, long-term thinking and focused, optimistic, and seeking self-control.

It’s akin to the classic angel on one shoulder, and the devil on the other — each bartering over who gets your ear. Which one wins? The one you feed.

One of the best ways to amplify ‘Monk Mind’ and turn down the ‘Monkey Mind’ is to start a daily, intentional few moments of breathing awareness, or meditation. Meditation (which is basically awareness training) has been shown in research to be a most effective strategy for improving our presence, slowing down our monkey mind, and therefore anxiety, reducing stress, giving us emotional balance, and even reducing depression! If we could bottle that, it would be the most popular drink!

I recently downloaded the Headspace app to help build a habit for calm breathing practice, awareness, and meditation. It’s actually kinda fun. Opened a new door. It created a palpable positive shift in my calmness, reduced my stress, and created more contentment within days. Which, I gotta say, during a pandemic of all things, I’m ecstatic about! Check it out if that sounds like something you’d benefit from.

And a third strategy you may want to read about and implement: finding more purpose. There are some great nuggets of wisdom in Think Like a Monk I imagine you will appreciate about finding more purpose in your life. Purpose boosts our inner satisfaction and contentment, thereby reducing our stress and anxiety. Hint: it’s about service. You gotta read the book… I’d love to tell you so much more, but I’m out of space!

In the end, it’s never a ‘thing’ we’re chasing to give us happiness. It’s a feeling. The feeling we think that ‘thing’ will grant us. And further, the feeling we’re chasing, we think it’s happiness. It’s actually peace. The peace that we feel when we kill the anxiety that comes from chasing happiness and material goods. As it turns out, the only way to find the true inner peace and lifelong contentment is through consistent nurturing of positive mindset, gratitude, awareness, and loving relationships. Like I said…. you gotta read the book.

Chris Wilkinson is the owner/GM for Nurse Next Door Home Care Services for Cowichan and central Vancouver Island. For more info visit www.NurseNextDoor.com or for questions or a free in-home Caring Consult call 250-748-4357, or email Chris.Wilkinson@NurseNextDoor.com

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