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Paul Harrison: “How Anyone Can Build Habits”

For wellness, I recommend just generally being mindful. Go slowly and be aware of what you’re doing when you’re doing it. The majority of bad habits (like smoking, eating junk food…) happen when you’re not thinking about it. By being more mindful you take control of your habits. I used to grab candy every time […]

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For wellness, I recommend just generally being mindful. Go slowly and be aware of what you’re doing when you’re doing it. The majority of bad habits (like smoking, eating junk food…) happen when you’re not thinking about it. By being more mindful you take control of your habits. I used to grab candy every time I went past a convenience store just cause I wasn’t thinking and generally craved candy. That’s a lot of sugar. Now when I pass a convenience store I ask, “Do I really need candy?”

As a part of our series about “How Anyone Can Build Habits For Optimal Wellness, Performance, & Focus”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Paul Harrison.

Paul Harrison is a meditation teacher in Hamilton and the creator of meditation site The Daily Meditation. Harrison is an expert in his field and a thought leader in the application of traditional meditation techniques. Harrison has been published in Psychology Today, Thrive, Lions Roar, Chopra, and more than 30 print publications.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

As a child I was happy until I went to Secondary School. At Secondary School I developed anxiety and was extremely shy, which made it very hard to socialize.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

The biggest inspiration in my career has always been seeing people suffering with emotional problems, including family and friends. As an empath I feel other people’s pain as part of me, and I naturally wanted to heal that pain, which is why I started teaching meditation.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

Probably my mother. She’s a total angel and has always been there for me, inspiring me and helping me along the way. She even edited my two books, Your Best Meditation, and a novel I a currently seeking an agent for.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

The most interesting thing has always been hearing people’s stories and troubles. It makes you realise that everyone is dealing with something and needs help. It really puts your own troubles in perspective.

The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?

Follow your passion. Believe in the thing you love. And never give up. There are going to be lots of roadblocks along the way to success and the only thing that will carry you through is your passion for what you do,

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Awakening The Buddha Within by Rama Surya Das. It’s a really deep read and so inspiring. It opened my mind to the spiritual world and I seriously doubt I would have become a meditation teacher had I not read that book.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

“If you correct your mind the rest of your life will fall into place”, by Lao Tzu. I believe this quote is one hundred percent accurate. If you have a pure mind you will lead a pure life.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I’m currently working on turning my book, Your Best Meditation, into an eBook, app, and video series. The book covers every major meditation technique in the world. I believe it will help people because the general public has come to see meditation as nothing more than Headspace, which is really just a tiny part of meditation. The whole Western idea of meditation is actually the McDonald’s version. People don’t actually understand meditation or its genuine power. I am going to change that.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to create good habits? Can you share a story or give some examples?

If you think about it, the majority of things we do in our lives are based on habits. Why do I have a coffee every morning? Because it’s a habit. Why do I scroll through social media every day? Because it’s a habit. You want your habits to be incredibly positive because they are the automatic actions you do every day.

How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?

Meditating every morning has practically changed my life. I used to wake up and check my email before I’d even gotten out of bed. That’s no way to wake up, it just automatically puts you in stress and work mode. Meditating every morning helps me get out of bed with a fresh mind and to see the beauty of every day before I head to work.

Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?

Be more conscious of your actions. The majority of habits are done on autopilot and we are barely even conscious of them. It’s impossible to change something you’re not aware of. Practice being mindful of your every action. Once you are more aware, you will be able to change and to build better habits.

Let’s talk about creating good habits in three areas, Wellness, Performance, and Focus. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum wellness. Please share a story or example for each.

For wellness, I recommend just generally being mindful. Go slowly and be aware of what you’re doing when you’re doing it. The majority of bad habits (like smoking, eating junk food…) happen when you’re not thinking about it. By being more mindful you take control of your habits. I used to grab candy every time I went past a convenience store just cause I wasn’t thinking and generally craved candy. That’s a lot of sugar. Now when I pass a convenience store I ask, “Do I really need candy?”

Performance: Practice formal meditation. Formal meditation has been shown to improve cognitive performance and increase productivity. When I meditate before work I get far more done.

Focus: Trataka (meditating on the sight of an object in front of you). Science shows that this calms the mind and massively improves concentration.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

The best way to develop a habit is to have a reminder. Set your phone or smart devices to remind you to meditate at a certain time each day.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal performance at work or sport? Please share a story or example for each.

Eat lunch mindfully. Lunch is obviously your break but it’s a great opportunity to refresh your mind. Eat slowly and mindfully while meditating on the food.

Do mindful stretching in your office chair. This is a great way to keep your body healthy while you work and to reduce fatigue.

Meditate before any important event to refresh your mind and develop your concentration before you begin.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal focus? Please share a story or example for each.

Trataka: Focus on a lit candle for five minutes. Science shows this massively increases concentration.

Samatha: Meditate on your breath and aim to be one with the breath. This silences the mind so you can focus.

Zen walking: Take a mindful walk, which will naturally refresh your mind.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

Again, just set a reminder on your phone so it tells you when to meditate.

As a leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?

To establish flow you want to always be mindful of the present moment. Accept the present moment and live with it. Then you will naturally experience flow.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Compassion. Nothing in the world is more important than being compassionate to one another.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

Odette Anabel please. She’s just so darned pretty.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Visit TheDailyMeditation.com

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

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