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How to Achieve Mental Clarity to Cultivate Happiness

Writing is another powerful way to sharpen the mental saw. Keeping a journal of our thoughts, experiences, insights, and learnings promotes mental clarity, exactness, and context.  — Stephen R. Covey                        

My mind is a powerful engine that runs my life. I’m sure that’s the case with you as well. Ironically, I’m more conscious about what I eat and wear than those thoughts that fuel my mind.

When we put our net worth on a paper, we never include our biggest asset — our mind!

Think that for a second. Isn’t that an astounding revelation? I spend more time pondering over the food that I eat and even the water that I drink than to safeguard the quality of thoughts that run my life.

It’s always a struggle to develop consciousness towards intangibles in our lives — anger, frustration, self-pity, low self-esteem are the forms of impure thoughts that influence the quality of life without my awareness. Manifesting internal awareness is the key to your happiness.

A view of reality

Our world savours the outer reflection — a beautiful body, a muscular body, a beautiful house, a beautiful car. This approach leads our thinking to form opinion by an outer reality of our lives more so than an inner reality. We are judged by our possessions more so than how magnanimous our hearts are, how compassionate our thoughts are, how  benevolence our actions are.

To find yourself, think for yourself.
– Socrates (BC 469-BC 399) Greek philosopher of Athens

An outer reality vs Inner reality

As I pondered in a moment of silence, I stumbled upon the truth for the mental clarity and boundless happiness. If I develop awareness of two distinct realities — an outer and inner reality — I can subvert fake, momentary desire of selfish and egotist pleasures. An outer reality is what exists outside and around me. An outer reality subvert my inner reactions by molding thoughts that incessantly flow though my mind like an ocean surf pounding the beach front. These thoughts form opinion about everything that I do during the day. For instance, when someone drives recklessly, I tend to get exasperated quickly with rushing thoughts of anger. These thoughts spur actions that often hurt me, from within, yet I feel helpless and act upon those thoughts of impurity.

An inner reality is a form of pure thoughts that arise from my own controllable actions by practicing meditation and yoga. An inner reality is akin to a warm room with boundless tranquility unaware of the harsh outer reality — inclement weather that exists outside.

I practice mediation and yoga everyday to create inner reality that is pleasant and entirely in my control. We allow our thoughts to be blended by impurity that comes from the outer reality. A reckless driver subvert my otherwise tranquil thoughts with impurity of anger and exasperation. Those who live life of boundless mental clarity and happiness know how to keep an outer reality from influencing their inner thoughts. With this, I’ve learned not to focus on actions that I cannot control.

I cannot control actions of a reckless driver, but I can choose how I react by controlling my inner reality. This is the first step to the path of mental clarity.

Outer goals vs inner goals

I tend to spend about an hour every week to plan my actions for the week with specific goals that I’d like to achieve. Over the time, I’ve found that sometimes it becomes rather difficult to keep perspective of what truly I wanted to achieve. More importantly, I’ve felt emptiness even after achieving certain goals.

I’ve stumbled upon another shiny truth in the quest to solve this mystery. I’m almost always focused on the outer goals — what I wanted to achieve in a physical form. I’m not focused at all on the inner goals — how I can achieve a spiritual balance from within. For the last few months, when I plan my week, I also plan  time to develop my spiritual being.

Achieving physical goals or outer goals without achieving spiritual goals or inner goals is akin to focusing on physical fitness without the quality of food we eat. Often, we juxtapose our outer goals and inner goals to subvert thoughts that are necessary to achieve these goals.

Additional tips for the mental clarity and happiness

1. Use power of mantras daily.

Mantra means a hack for the mind. ‘Man’ means mind in Sanskrit. Mantras are being used in the Eastern culture for thousands of years to train mind to form a habit. I use mantras for mental clarity. For instance, I frequently use, “Think well, eat well” mantra to remind myself the importance of choosing the right thoughts and food for my mental and physical clarity.  “One thing in, two things out” is a mantra I use anytime I shop something and bring a new item to home. for example, If I buy one new shirt, I’ll donate two old shirts.

2. Engage in small acts of compassion.

Compassion has power to unleash positivity by performing positive actions to help others. I always try to make an effort to help someone everyday to unleash power of positivity to influx my mind. Act of compassion acts as an agent of clarity and boundless happiness.

3. Learn not to expect an outcome.

This is rather difficult and somewhat esoteric. How can we not expect an outcome for which we work hard for? It’s human nature to expect favorable result from any meaningful effort. However, if I can act without expecting result, I can detach emotions that arise from the outcome that is not in alignment with my perception. The theory of karma simply teaches to act with compassion and leave the outcome to the fate with no emotions attached. Try this exercise with small tasks that you engage in. Once you master the concept, you can apply that to bigger things that you do in life. This doesn’t imply that we put lackluster effort behind our action for the fact that an outcome is irrelevant. It’s exactly opposite. It enables us to put best of our thoughts and actions knowing that an outcome will not jeopardize the clarity of our thoughts.

Associate reverently, as much as you can, with your loftiest thoughts.
-Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) American naturalist, poet and philosopher.

How do you achieve mental clarity? Have you stumbled upon different ways to purify thoughts for a better and balanced life?

(Photo Courtesy: Lemonscentedbubbles)

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Comments (21)

Great post, Shilpan! I don’t really think about mental clarity – like ever. I never really thought about it in these terms. I try to get a good sleep to ensure my brain and mind are sharp for the days and weeks ahead, and that’s as far as I go to achieve it.

Daisy, our mind is the most precious asset we have. Mental clarity keeps mind in healthy state. Sleep certainly helps, but if you engage yourself with any activity that can manifest inner peace, you will cultivate lasting happiness and healthy mind.

so much you speak of here I’m working on, especially strengthening my inner reality to protect me from the slings and arrows of the outer.

#3 strikes a special cord. of late I’ve been improving my diet and being more mindful of what I eat. As a result, I’ve lost a few pounds and, indeed, this was the original motivation.

Typically in the past, the weight loss would eventually stall and my habits revert.

I got on the scale today and was disappointed to see no change. Then it occurred to me. Weight loss is only a by-product of more mindful eating. Mindful eating is a worthy journey for itself. that is to say:

“Learn not to expect an outcome.”

thank you.

Jim, You always bring healthy perspective and interesting thoughts. Thank you!!

I hope that I’m already inadvertently engaging in small acts of compassion, but I will try harder to make that a daily goal. I also like the mantras. I do make a list every morning of the 3 Most Important Things to remember that day. A lot of days, I remind myself to not worry about the housework, but to be a good mom instead. I had all 3 kids home with me today and we played a board game, played outside in the water (the baby was laughing so loud!), and just being silly together. I didn’t get even one load of laundry done, but I made my kids happy. Therfore, I had a very successful day! :)

Wow! that’s wonderful. You achieved mental clarity even by postponing laundry work by spending time with your kids. Anything that you can do to manifest inner happiness will, in fact, rule the day.

If a person just works without expecting any outcome from it life would become beautiful. People don’t realize the power of working just for the sake for work. I confess that I too do not work for the sake of work but when I do I enjoy it a lot.

working without expectation would make mind more clear and happy. And the best part is that you would see the benefits right after you start to practice it :)

Karunesh – If you work without expecting an outcome, you are essentially doing what you love. That’s the key to your ultimate success.

I don’t know if I really sit and think about how I’m going to stay mentally clear. I pray quite a bit, work on relaxing, and having time to reflect.

Silence is also important for me. Sometimes I just like peace and quiet.

Jason – Praying is a great way to connect to your inner self.

That’s an interesting perspective, Shilpan. We often focus more on our reality than we do on our inner reality, and it’s largely because we’re taught that how we look on the outside is far more important than how we feel on the inside.

If more of us were to focus more on developing our inner spirit, we would more likely experience more joy, and live far more meaningful lives.

Anthony – I’ve found that it is as much important to focus on the quality of thoughts that we harbor as our thoughts mold our actions.

Excellent post. Excellent. This’ll sound a little weird coming from a blue collar guy, but I have been looking into buddhism a little lately, and so much of what you say in this post runs exactly with buddhist practice. So I might even go one step further and suggest some buddhist study for people who found this post to really strike home for them! I promise I’m not affiliated with them, but I find the podcasts/audio (http://www.audiodharma.org/) from this Insight Meditation Center to be very helpful and enlightening!

TB – I’m not Buddhist, but I agree with you that Buddhists focus a great deal on achieving inner peace with meditation.

This is so very true! I try do a very simple exercise many times a day bring myself back focus on the “aspects of the inside” All I do is close my eyes and take a dozen odd deep breaths. But the challenge for me is I miss out on even this simple stuff with the din and roar of the day. But I am sure with practice I would be better

Thank you for stopping by.

I could almost relate it when you mentioned that we should engage in small acts of compassion. Whenever I have helped a stranger I have experienced a sense of peace and fulfillment. I can not explain how and why but it feels really good. The mind gets a kind of peace that is incomparable.

Absolutely. You gain inner peace with small acts of compassion. There is no work in the world that is more noble than to help someone in need.

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I am so happy to read about inner reality and outer reality.. I need more on this to help me build my inner peace because i ate a lot when am upset and i don’t like..but with this,i willwork on myself. Thank u very much……

[…] believe that all of us strive to achieve one and only one goal — to become happy.  You make money and save money —  not to retire, but to achieve financial independence […]