Chances are, 98% of minds (and that’s being conservative) start shooting off answers like writing/journal-ing, writing, working out, stepping away from technology, taking a nap, etc…
These are great activities and the reason why they’re great isn’t because of the activities themselves.
We do ‘anything’ to achieve a certain mental state, or ‘mind set’ in the personal development world. This is different from achieving an emotional state.
There are 2 major distinctions between emotional and mental state:
1. Emotional states are ever-changing, whereas mental states are able to be fixed or permanent.
2. Emotional states are influenced by outside events, whereas mental states are determined by an internal locus of control.
The simplest way to think about it is that a mental state is a result of clarity of a situation whereas an emotional state is a reaction to a situation.
For instance, you imagine yourself in a world where you made $1,000,000 in a year. Emotionally, you may feel temporarily happy or content at the idea of making a large sum of money. On the converse, it’s possible you may feel upset or disappointed at the idea that you won’t make that much money in your current state.
Now, instead of thinking about making $1,000,000, you develop a 3-year plan to exit your job, learn a new skill to profit from and start a business. Emotionally, you may feel excited or fretful of what will actually happen (taking action is a different topic) but now that there is a degree of clarity, the mental state is aware and focused.
In the first instance, the emotional state differs among people but for the most part, there is a lack of clarity. The mental state is murky, without awareness.
In the second instance there is clarity. Regardless of the emotional state, there is a plan of action to take. The mental state is significantly clearer.
Mind you, this is a coarse example and isn’t to be taken literally. I haven’t talked about the actions involved or the hypotheticals of the situation. It’s just about the difference between an emotional and mental state.
With this context, we can look at activities that we do in a different light.
When we think of reading, writing, working out, drawing, these are more or less forms of catharsis in which emotional states change, ultimately bringing relief. That isn’t to say these activities can’t cultivate mental states. In fact, they aide greatly to changing habits and if treated as a profession, can be cultivated for goal-oriented skills. However, they aren’t enough to be used alone.
Meditation is the closest activity to cultivating a desired mental state and not just because of focusing on the breath, visualization or chanting for brain states.
The only element missing from making meditation a completely mental state is the direction, or intention.
Just like the other activities, meditation is used as a daily practice to maintain mental wellness. The majority treats meditation, like drawing, writing, or working out, as a form of emotional catharsis.
The one thing you can do to give yourself stability in an unstable world is to do all of the above.
But first, give yourself and your life meaning with a mission or vision.
It’s not an exaggeration when I say, this is not only the single most powerful thing you can do for stability, but to give yourself significance.
When you give yourself the vision in which you align with, you release a new kind of energy that transcends both emotional and mental states. All the actions you take in your life will be oriented towards that vision of yourself.
Important to note: Goals and visions are different. Goals are small, achievable milestones that get you to your vision. Your vision is and should always be beyond your grasp.
When you are dedicated and willing to die for the vision you choose, you’ll find that emotions affect you very little. Your mindset will always be in a state of certainty.
It’s because of your certainty of your vision, the direction you give your life, that you’ll always be happy. Not content, but satisfied. Not 100% energized every day, but driven and determined.
Take 20 minutes to sit in silence and write down the great vision you have for yourself. If it doesn’t overwhelm you and bring fear and excitement into your being, it’s not a true vision.
I’d love to hear from you: Do you already have a vision for yourself? If not, what’s the biggest challenge you have in creating one for yourself?