The pandemic has taken its toll on both personal and professional lives. Sid Madge talks about the micro-moments that could rev up your life as a result.
Exposure to external sources, such as a quick glance at the nightly news, can make it quite challenging to access our mojo or internal motivation. But so much of what we feel is actually a decision, albeit often an unconscious one.
Ancient wisdom indicated as much, and these early ideas—going back to Greek and Roman philosophy—have been confirmed by modern knowledge. A great deal of the science around positive psychology and happiness, for example, has roots in ancient philosophy.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which is largely drawn from the teaching of Socrates, considers the origin of mental disorder, including a lack of motivation or absence of mojo, to lie not in brain chemistry but in our irrational beliefs. Roman Stoic philosopher Epictetus said, “Men are not disturbed by things, but by their opinions about them.”
I’ve written three ‘Meee in a Minute’ books on ‘micro-moments’ for life, work and family. Micro-moments offer us a quick, practical way to change our opinions about things and, as a result, change how we feel, the outcome and even our life.
One of the founders of CBT, Albert Ellis created his ABC model which can be a useful guide to regaining control over thoughts and feelings so we can better access our best self – including oodles of mojo.
A is for activating event.
B is our beliefs that interpret that event and construct meaning.
C is the consequence – especially the emotional consequence.
The next time something happens, or you feel stressed by some news or situation, take a moment to notice what you’ve made it mean; what we make something mean is not the only meaning on offer. If we fail a test, should we make it mean we are useless or should we make it mean that we need to do more work? Practise your ABCs.
- Aim for 1%
When we are in a slump or finding it hard to get motivated, the tendency is to pursue an all-or-nothing approach. If we have been struggling to get in shape, we might decide to run 10K straight out the blocks or perhaps to dedicate a fortnight’s exercise to sprinting as fast as we can. This strategy is the worst thing we can do. Instead, start small and aim to be 1% better tomorrow than you are today.
This approach is much more viable and is much more likely to produce the desired effect, as long as we remain consistent. It also allows us to tap into the concept of flourishing. Flourishing also has its roots in ancient philosophy – this time Aristotle. Essentially, it’s the idea of engaging our highest drives to develop ourselves to the highest level. Take a moment to consider one thing you would like to change and focus on improving that by 1% every day. No heroics necessary.
- Decide to be Happy
I am always reading. For me, books are like journeys I can take without leaving home. And they have been a source of joy and a real lifeline during the pandemic. One of my recent favourites is Michael Singer’s The Untethered Soul, and he asks a really great question. Do you want to be happy? Yes or No? If it’s Yes, then what do you need to change to be happy?
Motivation is tough to access when we are miserable so take a moment to really think about and answer that question. We all know people who seem to be happiest when they are miserable, but if you are not one of them, decide to be happy and do what you need to do to make space for happiness. If you do, your motivation will also increase.
There is nothing more powerful than a changed mind.
- What is it NOT?
If you are struggling to find your mojo and you’ve checked down the back of the couch and it’s definitely not there, then a good way to track it down is to work out what it’s not. Like so much about our life, the outcome is massively influenced by our state of mind. Take a moment to turn your lack of motivation on its head. Instead of wondering what’s happened or why you suddenly feel so flat and unenthusiastic, go in the other direction. Make a list of the things that DO NOT motivate you. If it’s easier, consider what DOES NOT make you happy. The two are inextricably linked.
Sometimes it helps to focus on what we know we don’t want and won’t do as a way to gain clarity about how to regain our mojo.
- Gratitude Ritual
One of the most powerful mind tricks that I employ each day is the gratitude ritual. I’m not perfect at it and I don’t always remember to do it, but the idea is to start and end the day with three things that I’m grateful for.
Consider tacking the process onto an existing habit so you don’t forget. For example, as you are cleaning your teeth night and morning, use that time to also bring to mind three things, people, situations or whatever you are grateful for in your life. Try to come up with different things rather than the same few each time. And don’t just list them like a shopping list. Really connect to that gratitude as an emotion. Remember, it’s not happy people who are grateful, but grateful people who are happy.
You might have noticed by now that all the ‘micro-moment’ suggestions are focused on changing your meaning or choosing a better frame or belief through which to view the circumstances of your life. Things are really challenging for a lot of people right now and that is true all over the world. But we need to stay motivated and positive. Making these little changes to your thinking can make a huge difference. Each one is like a tiny grain of sand that helps make up the beach and coastline of opportunity, hope and being. It’s those tiny little changes that add up to the changes we want to see and allow us greater and more consistent access to our mojo.