Your Self-Improvement Regime – Meditation and Journaling

Fixing your clothes and your home might seem like a small matter but it is crucial because it’s going to make you a) feel much better about yourself and b) spend less time cleaning and tidying while allowing you to live in a nicer environment.

You will now find you feel less stressed and more awesome which is going to help you tremendously in every aspect of your life.

The next thing you’re going to do is to book yourself three half-hour slots a week. Again, this is just as though you were doing a workout routine. The difference is that instead of building muscle, you’re instead going to focus on building your self-esteem, emotional resilience, mental prowess, and confidence.

The program looks like this:

Meditation: 10 Minutes

Dual n-back Test: 5 Minutes

Tidying the House/Grooming: 10 Minutes

Journaling: 5 Minutes

So, what do we have here?

Meditation

To start with, we are beginning with meditation. Meditation is nothing mystical or esoteric: it is simply the practice of concentration and of focusing on your mind on a single topic or emptying it entirely. This has a tremendous benefit because it essentially trains you to be able to take control of your own thought processes and your own mind.

Have you ever been plagued with doubt? Or distracted by things that you shouldn’t be focusing on? Then using meditation will train you to resist those urges so that you can clear your mind of ‘unuseful’ thoughts and so that you can avoid distractions and stay focused on the task in-hand.

Meditation can help you to better deal with stress and it will even help you to increase your memory and IQ according to the research. Many people who take up meditation claim that it helps them to feel more at peace and to get less upset and frustrated by small things.

Not sure how to get started with meditation? The easiest way is simply to practice calming your mind and trying not to let your thoughts wander. Close your eyes and set a timer for 10 minutes. Then, each time you notice your train of thought start to wonder, you are going to bring it back. Don’t lambast yourself for allowing this to happen, just calmly return to a blank mind and continue to focus.

If you want a little help, try a guided meditation. You can get this from YouTube or from the excellent Headspace app.

Dual n-back

Dual n-back is the only form of brain training that has been proven to work, but even the studies underestimate the true value it may hold.

The idea behind dual n-back training is to concentrate on a sequence of numbers and shapes (or letters and colors – any two stimuli will do) and to look out for repetitions that are spaced a certain distance apart (‘n’).

In other words, if n = 1 then you would identify this as a hit:

ABJSXKLMBPLP

If n = 2, then you would identify this as a hit:

ASDNMZXCHUZH

This requires you to store the information in your mind as the letters are changing so that you can refer back to what you’ve already seen. Because there are two different types of stimuli though (colors and letters for instance), you are holding twice as much information (hence ‘dual’).

The idea of the dual n-back is to train your ‘working memory’. This is the part of your memory that acts like RAM. You won’t keep long term memories here but will rather ‘hold’ information here that you are currently manipulating and working with.

For example, if you are doing long multiplication in your head and you need to ‘carry over’ a number, then you will store that number in your working memory while you perform the rest of the math. This is also where you store phone numbers when you are repeating them in your mind ready to write them down (the ‘phonological loop’). More importantly, it’s where you store a visual representation of your surroundings and the context of the conversation you are currently having.

This is your bandwidth for real-time data then and it is responsible for everything from multitasking, to speaking fluently, to moving gracefully through space. Training this aspect of your brain power is the single most important way to become more eloquent, more witty and even better at sports. This is the closest thing to a ‘Limitless’ style upgrade.

It used to be thought that working memory was another category of memory just like short term and long term memory. What has since been discovered though, is that our working memory is actually tantamount to visualization. Working memory operates by activating areas of our brain as though we were seeing, hearing or doing and it is closely linked to concentration.

Meditation can enhance your working memory and so too can dual n-back. Look up an online game or an app, or try another exercise that can do the same thing like Rumicub. Either way, actively making time for this in your life is going to make a huge difference to how you feel and act.

Tidying the House/Grooming

I won’t go into detail on this, but 30 minutes of tidying a week are good enough to help you maintain a much better standard of tidiness and cleanliness in your home without massively eating into your time.

You already tidied the house on your ‘big day off’, now it’s time to keep on top of that and to clean up in the kitchen, etc. Likewise, iron your shirts and pants and spend some time clipping nails, shaving and generally looking your very best.

Journaling

On top of this, you will integrate journaling which is going to include making a list of things you like about yourself and a list of things that you are grateful for.

Self-esteem is incredibly important. As we’ll see later, this is a crucial aspect of ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs’ and is one of the keys to true happiness and fulfillment. At the same time though, it’s also one of the most important ways to change the way that others perceive you. If you have high self-esteem, then this is something that will be communicated in the way you walk, the way you talk and the way you hold yourself.

While writing down your good traits won’t automatically change the way you view yourself, it is nevertheless a very good start and can certainly help you to start being happier with who you are.

Meanwhile, writing down the things you are appreciative for is a very powerful tool for increasing your happiness. The problem is that too many of us never take the time to be thankful for what we have and instead spend all our time lamenting what we don’t.

It’s great to work toward goals and to try and improve your life. In fact, this is a big crux of the next few chapters. But at the same time, you also need to be thankful for the things you’ve already accomplished and actually bask in that accomplishment somewhat.

To help yourself do this, try writing down three different things you’re grateful for every day. It can be something specific and important – like the way your wife always tells you she loves you – or it can be broad and nonsensical like ‘great TV’. Think about your health, about your family, about your opportunities and about all the amazing things you’ve already experienced and done.

Finally, consider writing about your day if you have time in short bits (this is a great way to cement memories and to keep a record of your accomplishments) and maybe writing a to-do list for the day ahead.