Kate James on Negativity, Openness, and Mindfulness

Be Mindful and Simplify Your Life by Kate James is a collection of tips on ways we can simplify our lives by living more mindfully. Kate explains the phrase "living more mindfully" as “paying attention to the choices we make, rather than operating on autopilot.”

1. The Importance of Struggling: 

Kate believes meditation can be a difficult task for the mind to endure. And since humans detest activities we struggle at, it is easy for us to give up when we fail at it. However, the author insists that the struggle itself is the point. She writes, "It’s normal for your mind to wander during meditation, and you may well experience boredom or restlessness. If you can learn to be with these feelings, you will lay down a foundation for accepting the challenges you encounter in everyday life."

2. Being Always On-The-Go Has Its Price: 

While our modern society admires anything or anyone fast and efficient, it is not always sustainable. With time, our speeding up the lane of achievement ends up wearing us down. Most of us don't even feel comfortable around people who live that way, especially as "being speedy... has an impact on the people around you. You know what it’s like to be in the company of someone who’s high strung—they’re not someone you enjoy being with for long periods of time."

3. Impressing Others Can Be Costly: 

Self-knowledge is powerful. It takes a lifetime to learn but its value to our wellbeing is enormous. Still, without being mindful and looking into the depths of our own minds, we cannot obtain this elusive substance. Without self-knowledge, we risk being carried away by other people's rhetoric - telling us what to feel, what to do, whom to speak to, etc.

Kate emphasises this point by writing, "Often when we step back and take a look at what will really make us happy, we realize that we’ve made our lives more complex than they need to be. We pursue goals that won’t genuinely fulfil us in the long run. We become swept up in ideas and habits that don’t necessarily fit with our personal values. We do things that look good to other people without thinking about whether they genuinely bring us peace."

Kate James on Negativity, Openness, and Mindfulness

4. The Impact of Negativity: 

Our brain naturally seeks negativity in things as a way to go about fixing it. This pattern of behaviour, when allowed to run wild, often cause despondency. The author explains that "speaking negatively, whether it’s complaining about life or gossiping about others, is a drain on your energy and the energy of the people around you. It contradicts living mindfully because it stems from making judgments, and often those judgments and our frequent complaining become habitual... Being grateful, on the other hand, requires slowing down and thinking about is going on or has gone on in our lives. In short, "If you’re feeling grateful, you’re being mindful, because you can’t feel gratitude without first bringing your attention to what you’re experiencing."

5. Be Open With Your Emotions, Especially To Your Loved Ones: 

Identifying what kind of emotions you are feeling and developing coping mechanisms is important. Since no one has access to your mind, it is better to give them information about what you are going through so they understand you better. Simply put, "If you’re frustrated, irritable or tired, you can let the people around you know." This beats acting out and making your loved ones walk on eggs shells when around you.

6. Learn To Manage Changes

Change is around and within us. It is always happening, whether we notice it or not. With this realisation comes the knowledge that there are things we cannot transform or turn back to what they used to be. This applies to life situations as well as people. There are folks that, no matter how hard you try, you cannot change their mind about what they think of you or what they believe about some issues. "In the end, you may find that you can simply acknowledge your differences and accept some flaws in the other person, just as it’s likely that they’ll be accepting some perceived flaws in you. You may need to agree to disagree on some things, and maybe you’ll need to accept that they probably won’t change. When you are able to do that from a place of openness and mutual respect, it’s the most liberating feeling in the world."

There will always be joy as well as suffering. Learning to accept each and live through these changes will open us up to interesting insights about ourselves and life. As Kate writes, "Try not to push away the difficult experiences or cling to the enjoyable ones. Make room for everything."

Many thanks to Andrews McMeel Publishing for review copy.



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