Depressing Optimism

  1. You feel frustrated or depressed professionally.
  2. You start doubting if what you’re doing is what you’re really meant to do.
  3. You begin thinking about the myriad of things you should be doing instead.
  4. So many unfulfilled shoulds frustrates the crap out of you! There are so many. It’s overwhelming.
  5. You wish you could focus on just one thing—THE ONE ULTIMATE RIGHT THING!
  6. You wonder how long of focusing on this one-ultimate-right-thing would be long enough to provide you with the sanity you seek. The rest of your life? 10 years? 1 year? 6 months? 1 month?
  7. You begin to realize focusing on just one-ultimate-right-thing is actually an impossible illusion. What about family, community, and personal health?
  8. (Your AHA! Moment) Ridding yourself of frustration/depression IS NOT a matter of choosing the right thing. It’s a matter of learning to focus on just one thing—ANY one thing—at a time!

If you can maintain 100% focus on a single task for even just 5 minutes, then for 5 minutes, the tugs and pulls of life’s endless shoulds and I’m-meant-to-do’s can’t reach you.

Be present.

Take a few moments to breathe and just focus on the sensations of your breath (right now…go ahead and try it). What does your breath feel like as it passes through your nostrils? What does your chest feel like as it expands and contracts.

Focusing only on your breath to bring you back to the present is an effective exercise for two reasons:

  1. No tools required. No  matter where you are, hopefully you’ll always have your breath with you.
  2. You breathe precisely in the moment. Focusing on the sensations of your breath demands your presence in the absolute present.

I’ve known of the power of mindfulness for some time now, but  never realized it was key to dealing with my ongoing career path frustrations and depression.

Using mindfulness to increase our ability to work for greater periods of time without being seduced by the depressing shoulds of life, is like strengthening a muscle. Most of us couldn’t crank out 200 push-ups right now. But we could probably do 5. Start with 5. Keep doing 5. Pretty soon you’ll be able to do 6. Then 10. Then…

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Keith Nerdin

I'm just a Hobo Entrepreneur.

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  • Becca Lingley

    This is such a great reminder to practice mindfulness in all areas of our lives. And I, too, hope we all always have our breath with us.

  • Thanks Becca! Yeah…breathing is definitely a skill we need to stay up on isn’t it? 😉

  • Cari McGann McGee

    That’s what I love about Bikram yoga. We start and end with breath exercises. I’m a very “let’s get this show on the road” kind of person – move it, move it, choppa, choppa! But the breathing exercises (and the whole darn class!) require me to stop, focus, and be in the moment. Thanks for reminding me I can (and should) do that any where.

  • Elsie Puig

    Keith, your posts, geez. Get out from inside my brain! I want to hang this on a wall somewhere. Mindfulness is a skill I’m slowly trying to learn.

  • Not sure how I missed this Elsie. Thanks! I’m guessing mindfulness is a skill we’ll ALWAYS be learning.

  • Nice!