Contrary to the optimism often portrayed in self-help literature, the Dutch psychologist Gijs Jansen advocates embracing the inevitable challenges that life presents. In his book, ‘Out of Love for Yourself’ (original title: ‘Uit liefde voor jezelf’), Jansen provides effective techniques and exercises to navigate difficult thoughts, emotions, and circumstances.
Here are five valuable tips from the book for living a lighter life.
1. Pause for a moment
Allocate two minutes for yourself and take a moment to pause. Connect with your thoughts and become aware of your body’s sensations. Identify any negative thoughts and acknowledge them. Next, observe your surroundings.
Take note of where you are and who is present. Reflect on the people and activities in your life, both enjoyable and less so. By doing this, you create a comprehensive overview of your life, providing a foundation for continued self-improvement.
2. Recognize that pain is part of life
We often think that we ought to exhibit strength, avoid excessive complaining, and maintain a positive outlook even in challenging situations. However, it’s crucial to understand that this is not obligatory.
Acknowledge that experiencing pain is an inherent aspect of life. Whether you’re coping with the loss of a parent, recovering from an accident, or feeling overwhelmed, it’s okay to feel bothered by it. Embrace the pain, recognizing it as an integral component of life’s fundamental experiences.
3. Give your mind a nick name
Don’t take your thoughts too seriously. If you find recurring notions in your mind suggesting you’re not good enough, too weak, or shouldn’t behave a certain way, try assigning your mind a playful nickname. This technique creates a healthy separation between yourself and your thoughts, making it easier not to take them too seriously.
For instance, author Gijs Jansen affectionately calls his mind “Harry.” When faced with negative thoughts, Jansen playfully remarks, “Well, Harry, you’re at it again today, aren’t you?” By consciously avoiding engaging in a discussion with his mind, he swiftly recognizes these thoughts as mere nagging.
4. Allocate a few moments each day for self-reflection
Amidst the hustle of ticking off tasks from our to-do lists, it’s easy to overlook personal well-being. Pause for yourself multiple times throughout the day, even if just for thirty seconds. Inhale deeply, observe your surroundings, absorb the moment, and tune into your body’s sensations.
This practice can significantly enhance your overall happiness. By doing so, you connect with the present moment, fostering a sense of importance and fulfillment in your life.
5. Be kind to yourself
Allocating time for yourself is an act of self-kindness, and it’s worthwhile to go beyond that. Make a conscious choice to recognize and treat yourself — indulge in a relaxing bath, savor the food you’re craving, take a day off, or purchase that eagerly awaited book.
Just as you extend these gestures to a partner or friend, remember that you can also offer the same care to yourself. Consider doing so, ideally today.
5 tips for living a lighter life – About the author
Here’s some more info about Gijs Jansen. Gijs, a psychologist and author of more than ten books, has dedicated two decades to practicing Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).
ACT therapy is a form of mindfulness-based psychotherapy that guides individuals in staying present and accepting thoughts and feelings without judgment. These techniques and exercises are designed to enhance the quality of your life.
With his candid, personal, and humorous approach, Jansen inspires individuals to embrace a more carefree and fulfilling life. The tips mentioned above from the self-help guide ‘Out of Love for Yourself’ provide a number of psychological techniques for dealing with everyday problems and difficult circumstances. Let them provide you ways to be able to live a lighter life.