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Episode 351 S12-13

Live in the Now


Special Guest:

Little House in the Big Woods Ch 13

Chin Gibson

Live in the past and live with depression. Live in the future and live with anxiety. Live in the now and be at peace. Learn how.

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Live in the past and live with depression. Live in the future and live with anxiety. Live in the now and be at peace. Learn how.

We conclude the Little House in the Big Woods novel with a fantastic story of Laura’s Pa going out hunting and coming home with nothing. He was captivated by the male deer’s majesty, the fat meandering bear’s prowess, and the joy of the prominent female deer and her yearling. Consumed with their beauty, he never thought to grab his firearm, even though his family was waiting at home for fresh meat. Laura didn’t mind, though. As she lay in her bed that night, all she could think of was how happy she was to have the little house in the big woods.

I always appreciated the quote regarding the living in the now mindset. I’ve experienced life living in both the past and present and watched many other individuals stuck in the same struggle. True peace of mind always seems to come when the now is so engaging that nothing else matters. I usually found that feeling performing a sport or writing novels. There are many ways people achieve this mindset.

Psychology Today explains that people handle the past in two ways. They try to bury it away or stay stuck, reliving it daily. Both methods have the same outcome. If you fail to differentiate the past and present and reach a proper rationalization of the events that occurred, you can’t move past them. It may not seem that big and small trauma rules our lives, but they still dictate our actions. These things influence our partner choice and critical attitudes.

In many ways, we relive instead of live. We may repeat behaviors or take on ideological characteristics of significant figures that we knew early in life. It can be painful or threatening to separate ourselves from our parents and see them realistically as people and not heroes, so we start to take on their mannerisms.

Sometimes people rebel against their parents instead. They are so determined to be different than they overcompensate or distort their natural way of being because of their past experiences. These individuals sometimes project how they felt onto their children, assuming they feel the same way they did. This may make their responses out of tune for their children.

Other times people will recreate environments and dynamics that you are familiar with from your past. If your parents were over-corrective or adoring, you might try to seek a partner that treats you the same way. Their minds may distort the intentions of others to fit their past experiences, and they may try to provoke people to respond in a way that is in line with their past.

Living in the past has a lot to do with normalcy bias. This is the trend for humans to seek out things they are familiar with, even if it is unpleasant. You have to be ready to adapt and grow. However, this is much easier said than done and is typically a painful experience. Dwelling on those negative things often leads to negative feelings about yourself. You have to be able to pull back and separate yourself from the past to create a coherent narrative of what happened so we can make ourselves anew.

Living in the future is not always a bad thing. There are many benefits to being goal orientated. The trick is balancing those goals so you enjoy the moment you are in. You also need to set goals so all aspects of life, relationships, projects, and prepping receive equal attention. Overly forward-looking people are often anxious because they are looking to accomplish the next goal and do not spend time appreciating their achievements. Anxiety is a normal response to a threat. High anxiety individuals often have a heightened perception of the likelihood and severity of negative events and may employ a more cautious approach.

Anxiety doesn’t become a problem until it paralyzes the individual and has physical effects on the body because of heightened stress levels. Four psychological variables predict an individual’s vulnerability to anxiety. Perceived control is a big one. This can be the perceived ability to control a situation or the lack of it. The lack of control or an out-of-control situation can lead to feelings of vulnerability, leading to feelings of unpredictability and danger. The brain starts to expect a negative outcome which triggers a threat response and thus more anxiety. Your assessment of the situation before entering it can cause this anxiety. On the one hand, you may have a benign positive response where you think you have everything under control and expect positive outcomes. On the other hand, you may have a stress response, and then your brain starts spinning on the negatives and wondering how you will ever make it through the experience.

These items hinge on an individual’s cognitive beliefs and cognitive distortions. A cognitive belief is a preceived understanding of past situations that causes the individual to form a belief system based on those experiences and then project those beliefs on future situations. Cognitive distortions are expectations that one has going into a situation, even though their understanding of the situation may be completely inaccurate.

Forward-thinking too much can cause constant stress appraisals in an individual’s brain. Preppers have a solid understanding of this. Many things can go wrong and would be a threat to ourselves or our loved ones. The mission to be ready for that day is daunting and can be stressful. As one progresses on their preparedness journey, they must reach a rational conclusion that we are all doing the best we can with what we have, and nothing is within our control.

This idea brings us to living in the now. Psychology Today does a great article on achieving that status and advises you to just breathe whenever you feel anxious. Dwelling on past memories or worrying about what may or may not happen in the future clouds the brain with noise. Most of us don’t consciously control many of our thoughts. We let our thoughts control us. Like a waterfall, they flood over us, and all we do is respond. The key is to step out of the current to focus on just being. This is known as Living in the Moment or Mindfulness. It is a state of active, open, intentional attention to the present. You are not your thoughts. You can observe them without judging them. This teaches you to be with your thoughts as they are, neither clinging to them nor pushing them away.

When you learn to be mindful of your thoughts and live in the now, it reduces stress, boosts immune function, reduces chronic pain, lowers blood pressure, and reduces heart disease, cancer risks, and HIV progression. If you can learn to be mindful, you will be happier, more exuberant, more empathetic, and more secure. Another side effect is higher self-esteem and more acceptance of your personal weaknesses. Impulsivity and the reactivity patterns that underlie depression are also reduced. Understanding yourself on this level makes it easier to accept criticism from others without feeling threatened because you can rationalize the ego’s involvement. Relationships are also more satisfying because mindful people are more accommodating and less defensive.

All this mindfulness sounds excellent, but how is it achieved? That in itself is a paradox. You can’t set a goal of being more mindful to gain future rewards because then you are put in a forward-thinking mode again. You have to trust that the benefits will be there. So, in essence, letting go of what you want is the only way to achieve it. Here’s how this works:

Stop Thinking about Performance to Improve Performance (unselfconsciousness)

Psychology Today equates this to being on a dance floor. You go out on the floor and want to dance, but your brain starts wondering what everyone thinks of your dancing and remembering all the information you learned about how to properly dance. In reality, the other dancers are too busy worrying about themselves to worry about you, and all you need to do is let yourself go so you can enjoy the moment. Thinking too hard about your performance, it makes it worse. You need to get out of your head and pay attention to what is happening around you. When you are mindful and let yourself enjoy the moment as a spectator, without judgment, you realize you are just a part of humanity that is part of a universal energy. This way of thinking allows you to let drama pass you by. Social pressures fade away, and your self-esteem increases. Stop overthinking everything, beating yourself up, and just let yourself be who you are now.

Focus on the present to forget the past and the future (savoring)

All of the past and present noise fades away when you take a moment to truly enjoy an activity. Try it today with something you usually rush through. If you can slow down and really savor the moment, you will be happier. Most negative thoughts involve the past or present, so do not live there.

Inhabit the Present to Improve Relationships (breathe)

Being mindful helps people avoid aggressive impulses because it decreases the ego’s involvement in rationalizing circumstances. An aggressive or inappropriate reaction is less likely when you can observe the situation and your emotional response before taking action. Basically, you can see the spark before the flame. Your ability to control yourself has a powerful effect on social interactions, and whenever you find yourself getting distracted from the now, just breathe. You can do this anyplace, anytime. Focusing on your breathing brings you right back to the now.

Lost Track of Time to Get the Most out of it (flow)

The most rewarding experiences are times when you are so engaged in an activity that nothing else bothers you, and nothing clouds your mind. I often equate this to sports, skiing, or writing for me personally. Other people work on cars, paint, or meditate. There are ways to create an environment for you to maintain this mindfulness, but my feeling is if you have to make the circumstances, isn’t that forward-thinking, and doesn’t that put pressure on the activity. Do what you love and allow yourself unlimited time to do it without pressure or judgment.

Move Towards Something that is Bothering You, Rather than away (acceptance)

In life, you are going to experience pain. It is the thing that lets you know you are still alive. However, the brain’s natural tendency is to avoid those thoughts and feelings. Resisting only creates more pain. What you need is understanding. Let the emotion be there without scolding yourself for it. Don’t try to change it. You will only become frustrated and exhausted. This doesn’t mean you don’t have future goals. It means you can rationalize an emotion, allow yourself to feel it, and then move past it. Acceptance doesn’t mean you are okay with the circumstance either but what happens next has a lot to do with your understanding of each moment.

Understand that you don’t know (engagement)

When we feel so familiar with something, like a drive home, our brains will sometimes wholly disconnect from the now and flood with thoughts, worries, and memories. Developing a constant pattern of situational awareness will keep your brain in the now to stay in control of your thoughts and emotions.

Becoming a mindful individual is not about self-improvement or getting somewhere, says Psychology Today. You need to understand that you are already there. Be in your environment as a witness. Whether or not it is pleasant or unpleasant doesn’t matter. Take it in and be there. If you start to wander, think “Now, Now, Now,” and breathe. It’s not a destination. This is it. You are here.

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Little House in the Big Woods Ch 13

Chin Gibson

Chin Gibson is the mystery prepper. Friend to all and known to none. His real identity hidden from the public, Chin is well known to the online prepper community as the go to resource for finding a community member to solve your problem. He is an awesome people connector and does his best to unite the voices educating the masses about being ready for a unforeseen life challenge.

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