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The key to happiness and fulfilment – Cherish the present

We live in a hyper-busy world, where our pace of life is always frantic. Our minds are constantly occupied and we are forever up to something.

With that in mind, I would like you, the reader, to take a moment and think about the last time that you did nothing – just 10 minutes doing absolutely nothing. And when I say nothing, I really do mean nothing. Therefore, no emailing, no texting, no internet browsing, no television, no eating, no reading; not even sitting there reminiscing about the past or planning for your future.

Our mind is one of our most precious and valuable resources, through which we experience our existence. The same mind that we rely on to be happy, content and emotionally stable. We also depend on it to be kind, thoughtful and considerate in our personal relationships. Another of its valuable assets is that it helps us stay focused, creative, spontaneous and perform at our best in everything that we do.

But then, instead of looking after it and nourishing it, we end up never finding the time to do so. Curiously enough, as individuals we tend to spend more time taking care of our cars, the clothes in our wardrobe, our physique and hair. As a result, we eventually accumulate stress and burn out. Our mind becomes muddled like a washing machine which goes round and round, or cluttered like an untidy bedroom, unable to discern its many contrasting emotions. We are then left helpless and unable to deal with anything.

Unfortunately, throughout our daily lives we are bombarded with all sorts of distractions competing for our attention, so much so, that sometimes we are no longer present in the here and now. We tend to look past the things that are more significant for us. Oddly enough, this has become so normalised that everybody assumes it is the standard way of life. We are made to feel that we have to brush this whole issue aside. In other words, suck it up and move on.

Here is a personal anecdote of mine that can serve as an example.

When I was 29 years old, I attended my very first Pilates class. Without my knowing, all the attendees present consisted of elderly ladies.

Side note: Pilates is not just designed to strengthen the core muscles and improve balance, but it also sharpens mental faculties and improves performance, both at work and home. Its emphasis is on breathing techniques and mindful thinking, that can help reduce stress and anxiety, enhance concentration, and even improve sleeping habits.

At the time, I was going through a rehabilitation process due to a knee injury. When I saw all of the elderly women in my class, I foolishly assumed that it was going to be a piece of cake. Little did I know that the torment I was dealing with internally was going to leave a huge impact on my performance. Instead of going into the class mindful, in reality, my mind was full.

My sports injury had deeply affected my identity as a sportswoman and I was battling other inner demons as well. One exercise, which is performed with a big inflatable ball known as the fitball, seemed like walk in the park – or so I thought. I couldn’t manage to do one single exercise properly. I failed miserably at every task, whereas the elderly women performed each one effortlessly. They were as fit as a fiddle, while I was weak and mediocre.

Although this experience was humiliating, it actually proved to be an important wakeup call. That day I learned the fundamental lesson that before aiming for physical progress, I had to work on my psychological well-being first. I had some healing to do. Mindfulness was the key to all of this.

We all deal with stress in different ways. Some bury themselves in work as a distraction. Others turn to their friends and families for support, whilst some will hit rock bottom. The present moment is so under-rated, and we don’t give it the importance it deserves. Hence, if we don’t take care of our mind, we will wander into a trajectory headed towards unhappiness.

Some tips on how to practice mindfulness right now:

  • Stop what you’re doing and take a deep breath
  • Put your phone down
  • Do one thing at a time
  • Find mindful moments in everyday tasks
  • Spend some time outside, and notice your surroundings
  • Create something
  • Engage in physical activities
  • Meditate
Maria Mifsud

About Maria Mifsud

Maria graduated with a Bachelor of Psychology (Hons) in 2008, then went on to read for a Masters in Probation Services at the University of Malta. After years of being part of the Government workforce, she realised that to better understand her clients and be more equipped, she had to further her studies by enrolling in a Masters in Systemic and Family Psychotherapy with IFT-Malta. Some years later, she continued to pursue her studies in Clinical Supervision with IFT-Malta. Maria is also a qualified Victim Offender Mediator.

TherapyPacks Terms and Conditions

1. TherapyPacks come in bundles of 5 or 10 sessions. Prices of bundles:

  • 5 sessions – €270 – must be utilised within 3 months from date of purchase
  • 10 sessions – €520 – must be utilised within 6 months from date of purchase

2. Bundles are not transferable. This means they cannot be used by, or gifted to, anyone else but the person whose name is listed as the TherapyPacks bundle holder.

3. Bundles which are purchased for Couples Therapy and Family Therapy can only be used by members of the couple or family with one therapist. If members of a couple or family decide to take up individual therapy with another therapist, the bundle will only apply to sessions with the therapist originally referred and cannot be also used for the individual sessions with another therapist. Exceptions will be made if the original therapist is unable to see the client or family and the couple or family are referred to another therapist. After referral, the same conditions will apply.

4. Bundles are valid for a limited time period, as listed above. This means that the bundles will expire once the respective time period has elapsed. Any sessions not utilised within this period will be lost. This means that a refund will not be given for unused sessions. Start date commences on date of purchase of bundles.

5. Bundles are only valid for full price sessions (charged at €60) and not for sessions with trainee psychotherapists, reports or assessments.

6. Full payment needs to be made on purchase, via bank transfer, cash or credit card.

7. Management reserves the right to terminate or suspend the use of the bundles. Reasons for such are at the discretion of the clinic.

8. Refunds or extensions of time period within which bundles may be used is at the discretion of management and will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.

9. Management reserves the right to modify or replace the terms and conditions. In such circumstances, clients will be given adequate notice and time to adhere to such.

10. The clinic’s cancellation policy is applicable also to bundles. Late cancellations or no shows will result in the forfeit of a session within the bundle allocation.

11. Responsibility for ensuring timely use of session bundles remains that of the TherapyPacks bundle holder or, in the case of a minor, their carer/legal guardian.