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Confessions of a mindful 'Type A' personality

What's always been interesting to me is to see heads nodding when I'm speaking to an audience, IRL (in real life), as I mention I'm a 'Type A' personality. There seems to be a lot of us in this world!

When I looked up the characteristics for Type A's, I must say that I was a little uncomfortable reading this list:

  • Competitive

  • Impatient

  • Domineering

  • Overly ambitious

I think my discomfort comes from feeling that these traits seem negative, because I describe my main Type A trait as "I just have a relentless drive to strive, to accomplish a lot and not waste time."

My self-imposed drive manifests itself in ways such as always being so busy. Other ways this drive manifests are health issues, feeling stressed and never feeling like I've done enough - it just never seems like enough. Type B people tend to enjoy life's journey more and stress less about outcomes (I think I'd like to be a Type B!).

I have had notable success in reconditioning myself to slow down and smell the roses with the help of mindfulness and meditation. But the sad part of this is that I only came to this realization because of a cancer diagnosis in 2010. Why did I wait for that to happen to wake up?

I'll be forever grateful to have discovered mindfulness and meditation. And once I took an MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction) class then practiced daily, I then fully understood how mindfulness could help me with my resiliency in life and also focus more on my journey rather than on my list of achievements. This was a huge shift that changed my state of being for the better, much better.

Here are the key traits of mindfulness:

My invitation to you is to read and digest these slowly.

Perhaps think about examples in your own life where you can apply these.

  • Presence – ‘Being in the now’ as often as you can as you go about your day. Bringing full attention to what you are experiencing in the present moment, not thinking about the past or the future.

  • Awareness – Being self-aware of what you are experiencing within you and around you. (ie: observing your thoughts, emotions and body’s sensations and what is around you such as other people’s body language, objects around you, etc.)

  • Non-judgment – Not getting caught up in our stream of likes and dislikes. It’s not very practical that we can be fully rid of all judgments, but we can become more aware of our tendency to judge. We can see when judgment arises without acting on them in any way.

  • Being with what is - This is about seeing things as they actually are. There’s an element of acceptance here – ‘Acceptance’ does NOT mean we have to like the way things are, or passively resign ourselves to them. It simply means having a willingness to observe not only what is happening but the acceptance that it is happening, so we don’t get stuck and can move forward with intention.

  • Compassion & Kindness – This is about acting with kindness towards ourselves and to others. When we have self-talk and deal with other people, it’s good to check-in with ourselves before we speak by asking ourselves:

    • Is it kind?

    • Is it true?

    • Is it helpful?

Through practicing mindfulness, we become much more aware of how we are living our lives.

We stop operating on auto-pilot and live life more consciously.

Life begins to have more meaning.

We realize that the number of accomplishments doesn't necessarily equate to happiness.

We become aware of what is important.

We may be able to see why we tend to strive, and realize that we cannot solve the world's problems by overdoing things to our own detriment.

If we are touching humanity is a positive way, we are making a difference by being here.

And overall, we can create a better experience of life by living more consciously.

As a self-professed Type A personality, I still revert back to my old, striving ways periodically, but now quickly notice when I've slipped back into my old habits and am able to snap myself out of it.

It is about creating a better experience of life for myself, which in turn, helps me to help others in a healthier, more sustainable way.

I invite you to invest in yourself if you are a Type A person who feels too much pressure from life. There are much better ways to live this life we are in!


~Wendy Quan, Founder, The Calm Monkey


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