About Benjamin Fishel

Benjamin Fishel is a freelance writer, meditation practitioner, and the creator of the popular blog Project Monkey Mind. He's also currently studying his Masters in Applied Neuroscience. If you'd like to know how you can calm your mind using Modern Psychology and Eastern Spirituality, get his free cheatsheet 7 Psychological Hacks for Depression & Anxiety (in 5 minutes or less).

Stop Chasing Happiness: 17 Alternative Ways to Live Your Best Possible Life

“If only we’d stop trying to be happy we’d have a pretty good time.” ~Edith Wharton I have a question for you. What would you be willing to sacrifice to be happy? Would you be happy to let go of Netflix? Alcohol? Pizza? Would you be willing to take up a monastic life? Every single day of the year we’re being sold happiness. It doesn’t matter whether it’s in the form of a pill or a book or a holiday, the underlying idea is the same: What we have to sell you will make you happy. The problem with happiness is that no one really knows exactly what it is. It’s intangible, even a little mysterious, yet still we all want to be happy. But trying to be happy is like trying to get to sleep; the harder you try, the less likely it is to happen. So four years ago, on New Years Eve, I made the pledge to myself to stop trying to be happy. Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t miserable. I was just spending too much time thinking about whether or not I was happy—even though neither I, nor anyone I knew really, could give a clear answer about what this meant. So instead of saying to myself, This year I’m going to be happy, I said, This year I’m going to try new things. I’m going to meet new people. I’m going to go to new places. I’m going to push myself out of my comfort zone. And if I’m not happy, well, I’m not happy, but at least I’ve had some interesting experiences. The result of this was the best (and probably happiest) year of my life, at least up to that point. And I realized something obvious in hindsight, but still profound: Happiness is something that comes a lot more easily when we stop thinking about it. It’s more like a place you occupy than an object you obtain. Some days you’ll be there and some days you wont, but the more time you spend thinking about being happy, the less likely you are to spend time being so. A large part of what less than happy people have is a problem with their patterns of attention. In the same way the attention of an extrovert is naturally directed at social communication, the attention of an entrepreneur seeks out business opportunities, and an artist looks for creative expression, an unhappy person tends to look directly at happiness. This post will explore some practices that can help you to stop focusing so hard on the idea of happiness and instead embrace the experiences and thoughts that will actually make you happy.   1. Take the word “happy” out of your vocabulary. We all know words are used to communicate ideas. Unfortunately, sometimes a word can get overused and it becomes confusing, stifling, or even dangerous. Here are some other words you should start to use in conversations with yourself and [...]

2019-10-01T18:04:10-07:00By |

9 Beliefs You Have to Let Go If You Want to Find Inner Peace

“Enlightenment is a destructive process. It has nothing to do with becoming better or being happier. Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth. It’s seeing through the facade of pretense. It’s the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true.” ~Adyashanti I don’t know exactly when it happened. It was probably about eighteen months ago, maybe a couple of years. I can’t really remember, and it doesn’t really matter. I was up to my neck in stress, and having one of those days. It was one of those days where you wake up late and your neck is a little stiff. One of those days where you skip breakfast, and you immediately feel that you’re behind schedule on every little piece of work. Where you have calls that you’ve forgotten to make, and emails that you’ve forgotten to send. One of those days where you know there’s no way you’ll have time to go to the gym later, even though today’s the day you need it the most! Just one of those days. So I got home from work, sat in my meditation chair, and tried to calm myself down. But the stress and the frustration weren’t going anywhere. I wasn’t going to simply breathe it away. As I sat there, struggling to relax, I found myself more and more wound up, until a deep pressure was gripping my forehead. Suddenly, in a split second, I just let go, and the flood gates poured open. I let go of wanting to solve any issues in my life. I let go of trying to be calm, or trying to be stressed. I let go of trying be happy, I let go of trying to be sad. I let go of problem solving, and I let go of ideas of procrastination. It wasn’t the kind of letting go where your mind subtly grips onto something else. The kind of letting go when you scream “I just don’t care anymore” but you know you’re now just holding onto the idea of “not caring.” It wasn’t that. It was just… letting go. And I realized at that moment that all my worries were tangled up this thick web of beliefs I had about what I should have been experiencing. See, it sounds like a cliche, and maybe it is, but I realized that I didn’t need to get anywhere. Exactly where I wanted to be was hidden behind layers of beliefs. It was cloaked behind a thick forest of shoulds and should-nots. But as much as I’d heard this before, it wasn’t until I was actually able to give in that I could start to clearly see the unconscious beliefs that had been getting in the way of my inner peace. To some extent, everyone seeking change and peace are initially guided by ideas. But I’ve come to realize since then that the real change happens when you let go of ideas, as opposed to following new ones. After [...]

2020-10-01T11:40:51-07:00By |

5 Ways to Calm Your Mind When You’re Exhausted (Without Meditation)

“Calm your mind. Life becomes much easier when you keep your mind at peace.” ~Unknown   Let me start with a confession. If I’m honest with you, even just writing these words actually makes me feel kind of uncomfortable. But I’m going to say it because it’s true, and some of you reading this are going to realize that on some level you probably share the same feeling. I hate meditation. Now, let me do the obligatory defend-the-shocking-thing-I-just-said. I mean, to be more specific, some days I hate meditation. Most of the time, I love it. I really love it. It’s had the most positive influence of anything in my entire life. But so have my family, and some days… just joking. Look, normally meditation makes me feel on top of the world. I’m bursting with gratitude, and even the idea of stress can seem to be so far away. But on other days, I do also kind of hate it. Actually, hate is too strong, let me say I really dislike it. I’m sure some of you can relate. But there’s a reason we feel this way at times: exhaustion. About six months ago, my meditation practice had been going well. I was feeling incredibly content, just with life in general. But after a couple of weeks of travel, difficulties with work, and family commitments, I found myself tired, very tired. And my mind started racing a lot more than it had been. Mentally, I felt like I had lost my inner calm. Like I’d taken one step forward and two steps back. So I tried to do what I always do. Meditate. But for a couple of weeks, I was approaching the practice with completely the wrong attitude. I started trying to use meditation as my medication, and it had the opposite intended effect. It just wouldn’t work! I actually started to get completely annoyed with the whole thing. So I tried harder, and harder, and harder. Every day I would sit down to meditate, only to leave the session feeling even more tired than when I had started. It was at this point that I decided to shift my focus to other ways to calm my mind, at least until I had more energy. And I realized a few very important things. Firstly, I realized that I truly am in love with meditation. Even when I ‘hated’ it, I still wanted to practice consistently, and followed through with it. But I also understood that in times of stress, we can sometimes start to resent things we love. I understood that although I’ve barely missed a day of meditation in the last couple of years, I’m still a human being in a human body and I’m going to have days where I feel like I’m back where I started. I also came to realize that a calm mind is a focused mind, and a tired mind doesn’t have the resources to stay focused. [...]

2018-11-19T10:39:24-08:00By |