Psychological Mind Hacks

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Positive MInd

The psychological strategies and mind hacks below come from a combination of both Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. I believe that there are three main components to improving your mind in order to improve your life. I have split these into 3 areas below. The first I call metacognition, that is the ability to be able to be aware of what your mind is doing in the moment and have insight into why certain thoughts and feelings are occurring. The second is stage I call "Positive Mind" which is about beginning to control the way we think or having a different type of relationship with our thoughts in order to maximise our mood. Lastly, is the stage call "Positive Action" which is about how we interact in the world with others and how we can create a low stress, meaningful life. Love the life you live!

Stage 1: Core Skills

The first stage in managing your emotions and maximising mood, is about setting core foundations in both being aware of your mind and understanding where your emotions are coming from. At this stage each person has to face their mind and look deep within. The mind, whilst on the whole helpful and vital to living, is not always correct about the way it views the world. It can be very unhelpful by what it prioritises and what it ignores. This  stage utilises the concept of ‘the beginner’s mind’. That is, we are asked to view our life as an outsider with a totally fresh perspective and an open mind. The foundations encompass two different levels that need to be worked upon:

(1) Mindfulness: We spend so much of our lives on auto-pilot, fixated on the past and future without being truly conscious of the present moment.  A core part of the path is starting to wake up and switch off the auto-pilot to make sure that we are moving on a path towards meaning and happiness. This level involves working on developing basic mindfulness and awareness of our internal worlds (thoughts and feelings), external worlds (actions, environment), and the interplay between them. Without first establishing a calm and conscious mind we will struggle to progress on the path. Our mind requires training to be able to self-reflect and acquire insight into how our thoughts affect our emotions and subsequently our actions.

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(2) Know Your Mind: This level is the building of knowledge and understanding of how your mind functions and determining where its flaws lie. Knowledge is power, and through understanding how the mind works, we can begin to change our minds and ultimately change our lives.

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Stage 2: 'Positive Mind' mind hacks

Our minds at times can be very illogical and irrational. Mind-hacking  requires increasing logic and reason to govern how we live our life. This is about developing direct techniques to actually change the way we think and create a different basis of thoughts. This will foster well-being and happiness. This includes the following substages:

(1) Mental Disputation: This is about being able to identify irrational &/or unhelpful core thoughts which are creating unhappiness, and then replacing these thoughts with more helpful core thoughts that can foster more helpful emotions and actions.

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(2) Mental Harmony: This is the next part in developing a more positive mind where we learn to recognise the internal conflict and let it go. Whereas 'mental disputation' is about changing the way we think and relate to the world, we sometimes experience painful events and thoughts that cannot be changed. This next phase is about learning to let go of any remaining conflict. It also looks at the practical aspect of applying the skills of mindfulness in everyday life, using a variety of techniques to redirect the mind. This trains flexibility of focus: being able to be mindful of where we are putting our mind and then having the flexibility to shift it within our control (in order to shift our emotional states). It lastly addresses the inner bully within many of us; the inner critic that always seems to judge.

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(3) Mental Positivity: This part is about looking at the content of our minds and introducing more positive ways of thinking about and relating to ourselves and others. This includes working on our optimism, gratitude, compassion towards our self and others, as well as how to enhance our self-esteem.

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Stage 3: 'Positive Action' mind hacks

In order to be able to create a happy and meaningful life, we need to make sure that our actions are in tune with our core values and goals. In stage 2 we have begun to understand our mind, thoughts and feelings, and in this stage we need to use our new mindfulness and understanding in order to build the life we want.

(1) Developing Strengths: We all have certain personality characteristics which we define ourselves by. These however are not set in stone. We can take certain strengths and make them stronger, or take perceived weaknesses and change them. First we need to put a mirror to our own actions and thoughts, and then we need to set goals for trying to improve these areas in a mindful and skilful way.

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(2) Positive Inter-action: Our lives are spent constantly interacting with other people. It is this interaction that can cause us both our greatest joy as well as our greatest suffering. Learning how to react to others and interact with others in helpful ways is essential to our overall happiness levels.

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(3) Positive Intra-action: We perform many actions in our lives and positive “intra-action” refers to the actions we perform related to ourselves, rather than other people. This includes making sure that our actions are in accordance with our core values. Having actions that keep our lives organised and on track, as well as actions of self-forgiveness and moving on.

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(4) The Simplicity Principle: If we are going to have a happy life we need to learn how not to over-complicate it. Much misery is created through having lives that feel out of control due to the sheer volume of tasks, belongings or things we generally have to juggle. Learning how to uncomplicate life can reduce stress and support a more peaceful and well-balanced mind.