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Mindfulness Activities to Find Calm at Any Age

Mindfulness

The practice of mindfulness is gaining popularity as a way to ease stress, soothe anxiety, and be more present and engaged in life.

Good news: Incorporating mindfulness activities into your routine can be incredibly simple, no matter what your age.

With a little forethought, almost everything you do can become an opportunity for mindfulness

The everyday mindfulness activities below offer plenty of opportunities to slow down, get present, and be more aware of yourself and your surroundings.

Mindfulness activities for adults

One of the most common and well-known mindfulness activities for adults is meditation. While it may seem esoteric or inaccessible, meditation can actually be very simple.

These exercises are meant to transform everyday experiences into mindful moments.

Walking meditation

Walking meditation is exactly what it sounds like: a form of meditation you practice while walking, often in a straight line or circle.

You can do it almost anywhere, whether you’re walking to work, taking a stroll around the neighborhood, or hanging out with your kids at the park.

Mindful driving

If you’re driving your car, you can engage with the process by focusing on the weight of the vehicle underneath you, the texture of the road you’re driving on, the sound of the tires against the gravel, even the shape and feel of the seat against your rear.

Then, you can send your focus out to scan your environment and become aware not only of other vehicles, lights, and pedestrians, but also of the terrain, foliage, and skyline. With practice, you may even become a better driver.

Keep your phone on silent, turn off the music, and save the makeup application for the parking lot.

Single-tasking

You likely (correctly!) guessed that single-tasking is the opposite of multitasking. All it requires is showing up fully to whatever task you’re working on.

If you’re working on the computer, focus on one task at a time. As much as you may not want to, close all the browser tabs that aren’t relevant to the project you’re working on. This can help free up mental space and might even create laser-focus.

To deepen the practice, focus on:

  • how you’re breathing
  • how your body feels in your seat, or how your feet feel against the floor if you’re standing
  • the sensation of the air or your clothes against your skin
  • the structure and posture of your body

Mindful eating

Mindful eating is a way to turn something you do every day into a mindfulness practice.

You can make mealtimes more mindful with a few basic mindful eating practices, like listening to the sizzle of your pan and chewing slowly to savor every bite.

Other mindful eating tips you might want to try:

  • Try eating with your non-dominant hand.
  • Eat the first few minutes of your meal in silence and focus on the flavors, aromas, and texture of your food.
  • Turn off your TV and put your phone away while you eat.

Mindful gardening

Gardening is a great way to practice mindfulness and connect with nature at the same time. Set yourself up with a simple task, like planting some seeds or watering some flowers.

As you do so, place your hand in the soil and feel its texture. Is it rough or fine? Is it damp or dry? Is it warm or cool? Allow yourself to enjoy the process as if you were a child playing.

Notice the weather — not through your mind, but through your sensations. Do you have goosebumps from a chill in the air, or is there sweat on your brow from the hot sun?

Notice any other forms of life around you, like a chattering squirrel or chirping bird. You’re likely to meet a worm or roly-poly in the soil, too.

News

Melinda French Gates Now A Billionaire After Stock Transfer From Bill Gates

Melinda French Gates

According to reports from Forbes, Melinda Gates is now officially a billionaire. After the two announced their decision to end their 27-year-old marriage.

Bill’s investment vehicle, Cascade Investment, transferred $1.8 billion in securities to Melinda on Monday, May 3, the same day the pair announced their surprise divorce, according to SEC filings. That makes Melinda worth at least $1.8 billion, while the stock transfer puts a slight dent in Bill’s net worth, which fell to an estimated $128.6 billion, from $130.4 billion. Even after the ten-figure transfer, the Microsoft cofounder remains the fourth-richest person in the world. 

Melinda received 2.94 million shares of AutoNation and 14.1 million shares of Canadian National Railway Co., which are worth $309 million and $1.5 billion, respectively. (Bloomberg News first reported the transfer.) Bill uses Cascade Investment, a holding company based in Kirkland, Washington, to manage his money, including the proceeds from selling Microsoft shares. Bill at one point owned a significant slice of Microsoft, but has given away (to the Gates Foundation) or sold most of his stake over the years and now holds less than 1%.

The stock transfer is almost certainly part of Bill and Melinda’s divorce settlement. While it’s unclear if they signed a prenup, according to their divorce filing Bill and Melinda asked a judge in Washington State to divide their assets based on the terms of a separation contract—a document that is typically signed when spouses are living apart but have not yet divorced. The terms of the contract weren’t disclosed. Bill may have also transferred other assets to Melinda in nonpublic transactions. 

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Social and Lifestyle

6 Ways to Bounce Back If Your New Year’s Goals Fail

New Year's Goals

New Year’s goals don’t always go as planned, but setbacks lead to learning.

“Begin anywhere,” says philosopher John Cage. At any point, Cage tells us, we can choose to start over.

Yet for many of us, it’s the new year that heralds change and gives us the opportunity for a fresh start. You may have started the year with exciting new goals and the determination and enthusiasm to make them happen.

Often, in just a few weeks, the excitement fades and your carefully laid schemes don’t exactly go as planned.

I can admit it’s a pretty deflating feeling when your goals fail. Whether you planned to take better care of your health or you vowed to start saving more money, not being able to achieve your goals can deal a pretty devastating blow to your self-esteem. It can even prevent you from trying again in the future.

According to a study conducted by Strava, most people give up on their New Year’s goals before the end of January. If you’re feeling deflated, it may be good to know you’re not alone.

Failure isn’t always a sign you should give up, and it’s certainly not a reason to beat yourself up. In fact, failure can be an excellent opportunity to learn your limits and your strengths. This can set you up for future success.

You can learn to treat yourself with kindness in the face of failure, making it more likely you’ll try again.

Why New Year’s goals often fail

The first step in treating yourself with kindness is acknowledging why your New Year’s goals might have failed in the first place. Spoiler alert: it’s not because you suck.

“Setting goals for a new year can be problematic,” says Fiona Hall, a psychotherapist. “The month of December can be a very busy and stressful time for people. It can be hard to find the time to sit down, come up with relevant goals, and become fully committed to making changes.”

People often bite off more than they can chew.

“For some people, their goals are aspirational. They are thinking of implementing goals to change into someone who is ultimately not their authentic self,” Hall says. “In these instances, it can be hard for individuals to maintain a commitment to goals that will ultimately bring them further from their true selves.”

Hall also notes that most achievements actually consist of many smaller goals. “The main goal is broken down into smaller tasks, which makes the goal more manageable,” she says.

Otherwise, a new commitment may become overwhelming. This can lead people to give up.

“A common defense mechanism for coping with goals that have not worked out is ‘black and white’ thinking,” Hall says.

This involves focusing on the negative and labeling their efforts as failure rather than devising an alternative strategy for success.

How to get back up

It can be hard to take so-called failure on the chin. If you find you’re still beating yourself up about not achieving your goals, focus on building compassion and confidence.

Reframe failure

By changing your perspective, you can begin to see failure as an asset. It’s an opportunity to learn, improve, and potentially try again.

You can reflect on where you went wrong and gather important info about your limits and strengths.

“Everything is grist for the mill,” Hall says. “Not everything worthwhile will be achieved on the first attempt.”

Even when things don’t turn out your way, you can ask what you’ve learned about the situation and about yourself.

On top of that, Hall notes that picking yourself up and trying again is a sign of resilience. “Not achieving and trying again is what builds resilience in the first place,” she says.

Focus on the process

“I believe goals are the destination, and the process towards those goals is the journey. The journey is where we learn more about ourselves,” Hall says.

When you make it about the process and not the end result, you zoom in on all the positive benefits of your efforts. It’s likely you’re learning, growing, and changing for the better, even if you fall a little short of your goal.

It doesn’t have to be about the achievement itself. There’s so much in the act of getting there.

Acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses

In this process of self-learning, you may discover strengths about yourself you didn’t know you had. Hall suggests creating a new plan that plays to your strengths while humbly acknowledging your limits.

“Explore different ways to get your goals back on track in a compassionate manner. If a goal is worth achieving, it’s worth trying again to get there,” she says. “Acknowledge the time and effort you put into the process and how these skills can be utilized in other areas of your life.”

Look at how far you’ve come

Next, remember the progress you’ve made. Even if it doesn’t feel like it, you’ve likely made some steps forward.

“I’m a firm believer that baby steps bring about lasting change in life. Even though [someone] may not have achieved their intended goal, they will have made some progress and learned more about themselves during the process,” Hall says. “This new information can be built upon … to work towards happiness and fulfillment in their lives.”

Give yourself some credit

Finally, congratulate yourself.

You may think there’s nothing worth celebrating, but knowing you’re deserving of a pat on the back is a crucial step.

Set yourself up for success

During this process, you may realize your goals aren’t truly aligned with what you want. In this case, it’s okay to let them go.

If you do decide to try again, there are steps you can take to ensure greater success next time around.

“Evaluate the process and see if it can be changed or improved when implementing future goals,” Hall says.

Hall suggests planning your route and expecting there to be a few bumps in the road. These realistic expectations can help you make it all the way.

“If a goal is important to us, it’s worth investing time and effort in planning out a realistic journey to get there. Take your time and be aware there may be setbacks,” she says.

After all, setbacks are where the real learning happens.

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Social and Lifestyle

Feel Like Rage-Quitting? Here’s How To Productively Channel That Anger

Anger

Rage-quitting a job is a popular fantasy. In so many films and TV shows, suddenly quitting a job is a moment of vindication after all the frustrations and resentments a person had to put up with at their miserable job. They finally get to dump their work phone in a Parisian fountain and send their boss to voicemail, as Andy did in “The Devil Wears Prada.” Or they get to tell a co-worker “I can’t do this anymore” as they leave their unwanted work responsibilities behind and exit the office building smiling, as Issa did in “Insecure.”

Even if you don’t act on them, dwelling on elaborate scenarios of how you would quit on the spot, too, is a big flashing clue that something in your work life needs to change.

“It’s a sign that something is amiss. Our discomfort, our anger, our rage is information that indicates to us that there is some kind of need that is not being met. Or some kind of truth that we are not aware of,” said Cicely Horsham-Brathwaite, a licensed psychologist and executive coach.

It can be a tempting to escape into the rage-quitting daydream when work is a nightmare, but it’s not a useful exercise to keep doing all the time. “It can keep you from actually taking useful or actions that are appropriate to the situation,” Horsham-Brathwaite said. “It can contribute to people feeling trapped rather than looking at the underlying cause or issue that are leading them to fantasize about quitting.”

Instead of escaping into a fantasy, here’s how to face reality and channel that anger into productive action that can free you from the job that’s causing you unhappiness:

1. Get acquainted with the source of your rage.

Before acting on your rage-quitting fantasy and making it real, Horsham-Brathwaite recommended getting acquainted with what exactly is causing your anger through introspection.

Sometimes, this is a difficult first step for people to do.

“Because we may not have learned that it’s OK to have rage and anger, we may go to ‘There’s something wrong with me, I need to get rid of this emotion’ and not necessarily look at, ‘Well, perhaps that there is something in the environment that it’s reasonable to be enraged about,’” Horsham-Brathwaite said. “Maybe you are not getting paid equitably or because of shifts, you are no longer doing one job, you’re doing three jobs.”

To get clarity, Horsham-Brathwaite recommended journaling your thoughts and emotions around your job and seeing if this activity can bring up possible solutions.

2. Talk to others who can give you an outside perspective.

Because anger can cloud our judgment, it’s useful to talk with mentors and trusted advisers outside of your terrible job who can give you a fresh perspective on your work woes.

This person can tell you, “‘Here is the part that is the environment, and here’s the part that I’m hearing about how you navigated the challenges that perhaps you might consider doing differently in the future and here’s why,’” Horsham-Brathwaite said. “I think it’s helpful to have people in our lives to tell us what they believe to be the truth and then we can decide if what they share resonates with us.”

Psychologist and career coach Lisa Orbé-Austin said you can reach out to mentors not only to complain, but to ask them for ideas on how you can be strategic about your next step forward.

“It starts to create some hopefulness that this doesn’t have to be your life forever when you can plan for the future, and you can begin to think about other options,” she said. “Oftentimes in these moments, we get constricted in our world.”

3. Do network, but don’t spend the whole time trash-talking your current job.

Networking for better opportunities is a proactive step you can take to leave a job that’s giving you so much grief. But while you’re meeting up with colleagues or peers, don’t let anger over your current job define the career story you tell other people.

Horsham-Brathwaite said professionals should not network “while trashing the place where they work or their manager. It’s just not helpful. It doesn’t give people a vision of what kind of team member you would be in that new environment, or whether they would feel comfortable recommending you to a hiring manager.”

4. Take time off if you can, and center your health.

Orbé-Austin recommended that if you’re in a rage-quitting headspace, you use job benefits like PTO for your own benefit, and work through your feelings with a professional such as a therapist.

“It’s not just the quitting that is going to resolve all the feelings that were left over from whatever happened,” Orbé-Austin said. “Oftentimes, when we’re so angry, we’re not doing anything but [venting], and so I think it’s really important that you’re taking care of your holistic health, and to just take a step back and see what you’re missing in your self-care process.”

5. Plan your exit strategy, or accept the consequences if you must rage-quit without notice.

What movies and TV shows don’t always tell you is that quitting on the spot can feel great in the moment, but have long-term consequences.

Orbé-Austin quit a past job without notice, but she does not advise doing so on the spot without a plan. “It can have consequences in terms of your professional reputation you might not even think about,” she said. “I, at the time, knew those consequences.“

If you do decide that you must quit your job on the spot, be prepared to deal with colleagues gossiping about it. “A lot of people will never know the circumstances underneath and will only see your rage-quitting,” Orbé-Austin said. “On the other side of me leaving were all these people who were saying, ‘How could she do that? How unprofessional. How could she ever be trusted again?’”

But don’t wait around, either, hoping your work situation will get better. Internal opportunities such as getting a new boss or joining a new team may eventually come along and relieve the pain point causing the anger. But, Orbé-Austin said, you should be proactive and take steps that are in your control, like networking and job-hunting, to get you out of your circumstances.

If you feel like rage-quitting, “you want to establish a greater sense of agency and control in your life,” she said. “It requires you doing things to move yourself forward and not necessarily waiting for something better to come along.”

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