1) Introduction: Develop the Mental Muscle

UWB strengthens the “mental muscle” so that your brain supports you to lead a balanced life. We want you to achieve a daily flow in your mental well-being and create a healthy mind through our framework.  The concept of Flow first appeared in Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book called Flow. He said, “The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1990, p. 3)

What if you could achieve this every day? You can’t achieve it if your mind isn’t focused and clear; so, that is the first step to achieve mental clarity. By tracking your mental thought process and understanding the process of conditioning, you will learn how your mind creates joy and suffering (Awareness).  Much of this has been pre-conditioned from our ancestors to our parents — so it’s not your fault! We’ll work on deepening this self-awareness through mindfulness practice. We help you examine your mental states and common thought patterns and make peace with them and change them. (Adjust). Finally, we develop strategies to get rid of negative thoughts and promote more positive mind states (Action).

2) Awareness: Negativity Bias and Miss-Thinkings

Your mind is constantly pumping out thoughts — some 6000 per day ( published in Nature Communications by Dr. Poppenk in 2021.) Sadly, most of these thoughts are negative, functioning as ways to protect ourselves from harm – ingrained from humanities days as cavemen. This is called negative bias. So the way you think about things may be unhealthy, full of errors, or ripe with negative attitudes.

The first is an inherent negative bias that’s been pre-conditioned long before we were born. The negative bias is our tendency not only to register negative stimuli more readily but also to dwell on these events. (Verywellmind.com). We remember criticism over positive feedback, bad experiences over positive ones, and insults over praise. It’s just our human nature! Now you know, so let’s work on changing that.

Next, our mind wanders as much as 50% of the day. You may think a lot about the past or future rather than inhabiting the present. Over time, there are certain habits your mind learns that become very difficult to break. So how do you develop a clear, calm, and focused mind?

Last, your mind has rackets and miss-thinkings (this word we made up at UWB), i.e. misperceptions of happiness. Much of our mental strike results from what Laurie Santos (Professor at Yale University and creator of the online course Science of Well-Being) calls miss-perceptions of well-being, which are unhealthy thought patterns based on errors and skewed perceptions. Dwelling on regrets, forecasting the future, thinking your life would be so much different based on an outcome, and looking at the world in black-and-white are common miss-thinkings that can harm you more than they help. We need to learn how to reframe things positively. In level 1, we’ll help you build rational thought patterns that lead you toward your goals, not away from them.

What we do:

In tandem with our mental strategies which are based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, we also teach mindfulness, meditation and breathwork. In level 1, we show you exercises to settle, clear, and focus the mind. We encourage you to not only develop a meditation routine but to understand why you are doing it. We want you to commit to the hard work of training your mind because that will lead to your optimal well-being.

3) Acceptance Exercise: Stream of Consciousness Journal

We love journaling at UWB! Why? Because you learn so much about what’s on your mind and there is nothing more relieving (cathartic) than getting it out on a piece of paper. It’s not just us but also Julia Cameron, author of the Author’s Way asks, “Why do we write morning pages?” she jokes, “To get to the other side…the other side of our fear, our negativity, of our moods.”

Julia suggests writing 3 pages every morning before doing anything else. We don’t think you need to do that; a few lines is a good start. You can do this on a loose sheet or in the UWB Journal. Just write down whatever you are thinking about and do it often. Your journal entries can be good thoughts, bad thoughts, or just whatever’s on your mind. Then ask yourself “How helpful are these thoughts to me?” If they are not helpful, practice reframing them. Here are some examples:

Journal: I enjoy drinking my coffee in the morning and thinking about what to do. I didn’t work out this morning because I got out of bed too late. Then I had a thought about how I wished I got that other job that I applied to last month; maybe my life would be different. I hope I can be successful in this job, though. I feel like I’ve worked so hard at this but nothing goes right. Why does UWB make me write this down? (Hahaha ?)

Start Now!

 

Check-In

Daily Checkin Form

 

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What have you been up to the last few hours?*

4) Acceptance Exercise: Accept and Reframe Your Stream of Consciousness Journal

Now that you know a bit about common faults of the mind and have an idea of what’s running through yours, let’s check-in where you are today.

Accept where you are today. Go check-in. If your mind wanders more than 50% of the time, you score a 1. If you are mindful 90%+ of the time, then you are a 5! Write a few notes in your journal about how you feel and what you’d like to achieve from this course.

Now go back to that journal entry, accept it and reframe it. First, you want to notice what you’ve written and accepted that your mind is in this place. Don’t judge or criticize it. Julia Cameron, author of the The Artist’s Way, elaborates, “Morning journaling/pages are about tuning out our inner critic. “We learn to hear our censor’s comments and say, simply, ‘Thank you for sharing,’ while we go right on writing. We are training our censor to stand aside and let us create.”

Now, think about how can more positively think about your day and your thoughts. Yes, you have to write it down to make it stick.

 

Check-In

Daily Checkin Form

 

Choose how you’re feeling*

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What have you been up to the last few hours?*

 

5) Adjustment Exercise: Mindful Phone Use (Why and How Long Method)

In The Guardian, Harriet Griffey reported that “We check our phones every 12 minutes, often just after waking up. Always-on behaviour is harmful to long-term mental health, and we need to learn to hit the pause button.”

How do we do this? A challenging but incredibly rewarding exercise is to be intentional about how we use our phones. Throughout the day we may pick it up for any number of reasons, but the minute you take that device in your hand, you run the risk of getting distracted by countless other competitors for your attention. You only wanted to know the time, but then you saw you had a comment on Instagram; or you needed to check the weather forecast, but suddenly your day got rained on by negative news alerts; you were supposed to be Googling something for work, but twenty minutes later you find yourself watching funny raccoon compilation videos. You don’t even like raccoons!

The why:

Why does this happen? Because these apps are engineered to be addictive and distracting. They make money by capturing your attention and disrupting your flow. Sometimes you don’t even know why you reached for your phone in the first place. Like a smoker reaching for a cigarette, it’s just an unconscious habit.

How do you fix this? Practice mindful phone use. Employ the Why and How Long Method?

Ask yourself, “Why am I picking up my phone?” Then make sure you only do that.

Then, set a time frame. “I will only spend 3 minutes checking the forecast.”

This will not only keep you on track throughout your day but will empower you to set firmer boundaries with technology, that way over time the digital suck will lessen its grip on your mind. This will be challenging, especially at first. It will take a conscious effort to unmake old habits and replace them with new ones. But as you’re practicing think about how much better you feel as you regain more control of your day, your attention, and your priorities.

6) Action: Make It a Habit

Make a habit of your stream of consciousness journal and your mindful phone use! Add it to your daily routine right after you pour that morning coffee or brush your teeth. As you continue, you’ll become more aware of the thoughts that get stuck in your head and harm you. You can’t achieve flow without positive thoughts. We promise you will feel much better after writing things out.

Come to level 1 to learn more about negative bias, wandering mind, and common miss-thinkings. We’ll show you what causes stress, how to use cognitive strategies and other techniques to reframe your thinking more positively. We’ll introduce breathwork and meditation and discuss ways to insert positivity into everyday life. We also explain how to identify recurring emotions you struggle with and the negative responses they elicit. You‘ll also learn to address and reframe the negative thought patterns. UWB mental well-being is all about strengthening your mental muscle and achieving daily flow in your mind. Now Check-In!

 

Check-In

Daily Checkin Form

Choose how you’re feeling*

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5

 

What have you been up to the last few hours?*

 

[Total: 0   Average: 0/5]

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