This is How I Reclaim Peace in My Life: Change THIS Habit Now
Disclaimer: there is no overnight success. Healthy habits take time to build and tweak before you can reap the benefits.
This is a worthwhile investment though.
Change is the only constant in life, and the only way to feel less anxious and depressed amid chaos and uncertainties is to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Expand your comfort zone.
Be okay with what is outside your control.
This article is not about taming your mind though (that being said, read this article here in which I talked about practices for the brain to live a happier life).
I came from a place with massive uncertainties (physically and emotionally speaking). A few years ago, the social and political unrest in my hometown got me refreshing different social media apps every 5 minutes, losing sleep and appetite, and feeling extremely anxious.
I hit the bottom before I could pull myself up.
Fast forward to today, I have “peace of mind” on my morning gratitude list almost every single day, because of this habit.
➡️ Your Input Shapes Your Outlook
We experience different degrees of anxiety and depression depending on how we perceive the world.
What influences our perception of the world?
Social media. News. Stories we hear from our family and friends.
If those sources are mostly positive, we generally perceive the world to be good, and vice versa.
In other words, what we consume on a daily basis determines our outlook, values and worldviews.
Most of us have gone through a period during the pandemic when we were stuck at home, and we kept refreshing the news website and confirmed cases figures every hour, feeling helpless and uncertain about the whole situation.
News and social media favour content that triggers anger and anxiety, since that’s how we keep scrolling, craving for more, creating an illusion that more “information” will help us understand and navigate the situation.
Hence understanding our consumption pattern and what we actually consume on a day-to-day basis is the first step to reclaim that peace of mind we have been craving for.
👓 Focus On What You Can Control
This is the quickest way to manage your thoughts and feelings:
Whatever situation you’re in, ask yourself this crucial question: what is under my control?
There is no point thinking of what’s outside our control, hence suffer in frustration.
As Seneca put it, “we suffer more in imagination than in reality.”
Whether the border will be opened or not is not under your control, unless you are the prime minister.
But how you make use of your time today is under your control. You can spend it on checking the news, complaining to your friends, or building a home fitness routine.
It’s not a lost battle if most things are out of your control.
The second question you can ask is: what is under my influence?
There are things that if you put enough effort, you might be able to influence the other party or the outcome.
Things that you can do to prevent the worst case scenario from happening, if you’re the “jump straight to conclusion” type of person.
I went through a hell lot of challenges and changes in my personal life recently that impacted my health and work life. There were days when I was just a zombie doing what I had to do without being fully present. There were days when I couldn’t find a word to describe how I felt.
Then I decided that life couldn’t go on like that. So I sat down, pulled out my iPad and listed everything that was bugging me. The list then became a mind map pointing to three categories: what’s under my control, what’s under my influence, and what I shouldn’t bother anymore. Then I started taking actions, which eventually gave me back control in life.
🤳🏻 Why Do You Scroll?
In case you haven’t noticed what I’m trying to get to, what you consume every day is 100% under your control.
Yes, that includes what you read and eat. Basically everything you take in.
Realising this is the first step of reclaiming your peace of mind from this madness.
I changed my scrolling habit.
I stopped caring about things out of my control when I was at my lowest – which included politics and my fake friends’ Instagrammable lives.
My mum used to tell me that I must keep up with what’s going on in the world. But I shouldn’t get into politics. Lol.
I say otherwise.
As Time Ferriss put it, if the news is ground-breaking enough, you are bound to hear about it from family, friends and colleagues. Most stuff is just noise that clouds your judgment and messes with your emotional health.
That might sound a bit cold-hearted and ignorant, but let’s be honest: why do you scroll? Why do you keep up with the news, the figures, the “trends”?
What is it all for?
Does the information help you in any way?
I’ve seen this happen to people around me. They are consumed by bad news and anxiety. They become more reactive to situations. They cannot make good decisions because they are anxious, they feel like they need more information, and they keep pondering the “what if”.
The same applies to scrolling on social media.
Does social media really make us more social?
Knowing how someone is living their lives through their lens doesn’t mean you are connected to them.
In fact, research has shown that Gen Z is the loneliest generation ever in America, despite having the best technology and social media networks.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against social media – but the algorithm, and how we use it. More importantly, how those content make us feel.
Subconscious comparison. Inner voices telling you that you have a problem when you’re staying in on a Friday night while your friend is out there partying.
Our worldviews are changed by these society “standards”.
Our emotional health is impacted by all these noises around us.
To reclaim a sense of calmness and peace of mind, we need to block them out. Like a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones.
So that we can sit with ourselves, reflect on values that truly matter to us, and start living a life on our own terms.
But… I know you want to argue.
Fine, you want to scroll, you want to keep up with the world to a certain extent, what to do then, in order to minimise the negative impact on our emotional health?
🙅🏻♀️ Strategic Ignorance
We are smarter than our devices. We can reframe our habits.
One of the best concepts I’ve heard is called strategic ignorance, or selective ignorance.
It is the practice of selectively ignoring distracting, irrelevant, or otherwise unnecessary information received, such as e-mails, news reports, etc.
I’ve written another post in late 2020 on this topic with tips that you can start applying today.
Ask yourself: what can you stop giving a damn about now?
We only have that much time, attention and energy. Choose wisely.
This is how I reached my career, personal development and health goals all these years. I didn’t watch TV, I didn’t keep up with trivial news, and I didn’t bother to travel overseas under the pandemic climate.
I focused inwards. I prioritised my goals and needs.
What are you going to strategically ignore today?
What are you going to focus on today?
💡 Bonus Tip: Hack Your Scrolling Habit
Sometimes I feel like our brain is like a puppy.
We keep looking for distraction.
This is in fact human nature: our brain is constantly scanning the environment, looking for potential threat.
Most of us pick up the phone and scroll mindlessly, whenever we feel “bored”, “unmotivated” or “stuck”. Before we know it, our brain gets that cheap dopamine hit (instant information and reactions) and we crave for more. We keep taking in information that doesn’t benefit us.
We unconsciously waste so much time and energy through mindless scrolling.
Here are a few things I’ve done to “hack” this bad habit:
1. Unfollow the news and fake friends on all the apps that you scroll
“Breaking news”, that friend who’s always showing off etc… make sure they don’t show up on your timeline anymore.
2. Replace with good quality content
What is the number one goal you are striving towards right now? follow the corresponding industry leaders. here are my personal favourite self-development Instagram accounts:
Let the good stuff fill your cup, reshape your worldview and achieve your goals faster.
I’m not immune to distraction. But now every time I tap on Instagram, I see motivational quotes, reflections prompts, and inspirational stories that give me motivation whenever I feel a dip in energy. My mindset and way of living are subtly transformed by those little mindset shifts.
Thanks to the good quality content I consume now.
🧩 Go the Extra Mile: Create More Than You Consume
You don’t have to be an artist, musician or content creator to create.
Creating is part of us.
It is our way of self-expression.
Journaling, painting, sketching, making music, baking, making cocktails… you name it.
Self-expression is good for your emotional health.
And when you create more than you consume, you feel more inspired, energetic and connected to yourself.
You start to live a better life.
💬 Final Words
Whatever goal you are trying to achieve in life, it all goes back to wanting to have a sense of peace and control. While we work hard every day, it is important to be mindful of the tiny habits we pick up unconsciously that get in our way of enjoying peace and calmness.
Be aware of what you consume every day. Replace the triggering content with good ones that support your goals.
Want to feel more peaceful right now? Check out this handpan meditation soundtrack I created for you 🏝