“The kingdom of heaven in not a place but a state of mind.” ~ John Burroughs
Have you ever noticed that the way you perceive the world is largely dependent on your inner state of mind? Can you remember how disturbing or even alienating everything around you can be if you are in a bad mood? And how effective was what you did last time when you felt really drained of your physical energy?
On the other hand there is this state where everything just seems to flow, when it seems that you couldn’t do anything wrong and what you do seems effortless. All of this describe one thing: your state. Wouldn’t it be nice to know how to have full control over your state of mind?
Being able to change your state of mind proactively means that you are in control. You are in control of how effectively you function and more importantly, how you feel, regardless of the events around you. Because any emotion you have is a response to something. And if you are able to choose your response more carefully your emotional state wouldn’t be at the mercy of what happens in your life, and well… life just gets easier that way.
What is Your State of Mind, Anyway?
Your inner state is the emotional and intellectual content of your mind at this moment. In other words, it is what is going on inside, whether it’s predominately emotions or thinking (which are interconnected anyway). I would even go a little further and say it’s your whole mental setup you have at any given moment.
How Can You Influence Your State of Mind?
1. Get Aware
In order to get more conscious control of what goes on in your mind you need to develop an awareness for those processes. What helps is to hold still for a moment, take a deep breath and free your mind of all the chatter that is going on inside. This makes room for a change of state, for something new to enter.
2. Change What You Focus On
From your awareness of your thoughts and emotions you become able to direct your focus consciously. Maybe take it willingly away from something that drags you down, and put it to something that inspires you.
If you notice a situation that is just not helpful, take your attention away from it and direct your focus new. Don’t look away. If there is something you should go for, do it. That’s not what I’m talking about. But usually we have to make a choice what we allow to enter our mind. It is our responsibility.
3. Use Your Physical Body
The way we use our physical body can influence our state big time. Just imagine you’re sitting there really hung over, shoulders hanging forward, shallow breathing. Maybe just do it right now to experience how it influences your state.
And then do the opposite: stand up straight and put a big grin on your face. Take some deep strong breath and get energetic tension in your body. This changes your state. I actually learned this one from Anthony Robbins, so I can’t take credit for it, and it’s hard to talk about state without mentioning him. Quote:
„Take this vehicle that our creator has given us and use it. Your body is the tool for changing state the fastest. Trying to do it with your mind takes forever.“
Break Your Current State
The key to change your state is obviously to interrupt your current state. Interrupting your negative state needs to pull you out of your stream of negative thoughts and emotions. What I personally like to do is change locations, for instance I move to a different room or go outside to take a break.
Getting into a Peak State
How can we get into a really powerful state? A simple answer is movement. So to get into a peak state we make use of all 3 factors:
1. Clear your mind by getting aware of your thoughts and emotions at this very moment.
2. Refocus your mind on something empowering. Maybe something that you enjoy, a past success or people you love. Or just what will take you forward at this moment. The right thing for you to do.
3. Use your physical body by moving fast, stand up straight and tall, shoulders back. Head slightly up, looking straight ahead. Feel the energy raising inside yourself. Take a deep and confident breath.
Notice how your state is changing. Use this whenever you want to change your state.
Thanks this was a great read. Quality.
@Maryam, yes, helping others can be a source of joy and appreciation for life. This alone can be very fulfilling and (needless to say) very valuable work. I would also encourage you to additionally take good care of your other own needs of course.
I want to share my experience which is helping other people who are really in need and helpless. When I am useful for others, it gives me a pleasure and joy. I started it from my family and one case was a member of my family who had cancer. It was very hard and painful to be with her and to get through it, but at end It made me stronger and showed me how to appreciate and recognize the joy of life. To support a child or old people, even doing a small task for them, can be useful too.
Thanks for the great reads myrko! You’re like my early morning caffeine!:)
I like to hear that Cathy! :)
Great, good luck to you! Seems like you are on the right track.
@Myrko: You’re right the problem is I keep convincing myself that no matter what i may do i’ll never get better like if i went to a trip or a walk it won’t help it’ll just make some time pass then i’ll be back to the dark again .. Thank you Myrko and i know that you’re not a psychologist but i know that you’re very good in your field and you respond with your readers and I don’t know any writer who respond with his readers that fast and i really appreciate that very much :) thank you and i’m very happy that i found your website and read your articles :)
@Zack: Thank You Zack will try to force myself to do that and hopefully that could change how i feel now :)
@Mariam: I know you’ve already read the article about my depression when I was in my late teens, which has a lot of good insights too.
I like what Zack said. Those are practical and easy to do small things that could help. I posted some more tips in this comment.
I personally think becoming aware of depressive states and educating yourself is really important. Other than that it is equally important not to overdo it or even worse, make a kind of identity out of it. For instance the realization of „I can’t do it“ as a fact is fine. And then accept this fact for the moment and then look for solutions (as you do! :-)). But don’t sink into this mindset of „I can’t“, since this is one of the most self-defeating phrases you could say to yourself. Your brain will give reasons why this is true. What you want to do is trying to find and ask the right questions that can help you move into your desired direction. Questions starting with „How can I…?“ can help you to discover ways. I.e. „How can I make a small step to be active today?“ Love yourself and try to be supportive for yourself. Asking question works great with doing a written self-reflection.
Take a look at this article about taking responsibility. While you will get great help from other people, eventually you are the person who is responsible for yourself. This should be encouraging, even if it could be hard at the moment, since it gives you power eventually. Just go small baby steps every day. :-)
What may also be good is to look into the messages from Eckhart Tolle, here is the first chapter of his book „The Power of Now“.
And please don’t take what I say as psychological or even medical advice. It is not, it’s information of what works for me that I share. I would suggest to look for a good psychological person / psychiatrist who you can trust.
Summary of suggested articles:
– Are You Asking the Right Questions?
– Take Full Responsibility in Your Life
– First Chapter of Eckhart Tolle’s „The Power of Now“
I’m no guru or anything of the sort, but I too battle with bouts of depression. I am lucky in that I have learned ways to combat it. It seems for me the very first time I do something that I do not feel like doing the feeling diminishes. Often I will force myself to do something active and enjoyable that I don’t feel like doing, as in walking around the neighborhood, or woods or something of the sort. Sometimes after that I’ll try to clean something like dishes or laundry, but something small any rate. These are the some of the ways that I deal with the crushing feeling on any given occasion. Just doing something that is not in my normal routine seems to help.
A more proactive thing that I do is practice meditation at a local Buddhist temple. I am not Buddhist but the meditation helps put a space between the feelings and thoughts and the self allowing a little breathing room, or „not taking myself so seriously“ as I generally refer to it.
I am sure that Myrko would agree in principle with the benefits of what I’ve suggested, and have quite possibly more to add. Self discovery is a difficult path. I don’t know if you are a reader but there are some great books out there. Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi is a great read where the love and care of the author comes through the pages. Good luck to you.
I love your articles and I agree with all of what you said but i just can’t ! i cant get up ! i’m so depressed that I can’t move , have been like this for a month and i have no idea what to do :( this feeling is just killing me slowly from the inside though i believe there’s nothing wrong with my life and i’m not seeking attention but i just can’t do anything I feel like I wanna stay that way till i die ! i have no control over my self mentally and physically .. If you could recommend another article of yours or recommend something else that I could do because I keep on searching for something that could help me but i still can’t
Thank you :)
Interesting journey Zack, especially about stopping the stream of thought. It’s amazing how one can open this door and enter a whole new world, isn’t it?!
I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate your work. It never ceases to surprise me how kairortically relevant and timely (same thing) your emails are. I enjoy reading the posts as well. This is especially so since you spread the credit for the ideas you promote around. For myself I started the process of inner development after reading The Teachings of Don Juan by Carlos Castenada. Rule number one was quieting the inner mind. I struggled with this for ten years before a girlfriend took me to a Therevadan Buddhist temple and I began to practice metta, or loving-kindness, meditation. I still remember the moment that I was able to stop the cycle of thoughts. It was so empowering I thought I was enlightened! Of course it was just the beginning. Looking back though I can see that the metta itself was important because it allowed me to begin to overcome my fear of change and expectation of permanence. Thanks again for the quality posts and the pluralistic approach. May we all be well, happy, and peaceful
That’s a very good question, Glynis. I think in the context of changing state, one way is to re-focus on something different and therefore breaking the current stream of thoughts. Another and probably the best way is to quiet the mind by becoming conscious of your own being. Focussing on your breath is one practical way to do it. See also the chapter 1 of the power of now: you are not your mind.
Clearing the mind could really be a whole new topic and I think I will post about this in a new article in the coming weeks.
Update: Here is the post about Clarity and Clearing Your Mind.
I have one question: How does one clear their mind exactly? For some this is quite difficult.
hI, I love reading your blog posts.. great going… if you could post something on really taking care of time management, or an hour by hour time schedule, it would be just wonderful
Valsala, thanks for the nice feedback. I posted in my productivity category about:
– A Beginner’s Guide to Time-Management
– How to Plan Your Week: 4 Steps to Productivity
– How to Be Productive? The Simplest Possible Productivity System
Yes, awareness is always the first step to change. Of course you can be there and this alone would solve a lot of „problems“ in itself, agreed.
I find that your first step alone is very useful. When I become aware of my state then I can take ownership & take the steps you mention to change it.
Great post, thanks.