A man practicing how to be grounded by doing yoga surrounded by plants.

Want to know how to be grounded? What are the key elements of groundedness?

Learning how to be grounded requires focusing on six components: accepting reality, living in the present, slowing down, accepting yourself, nurturing relationships, and taking care of your physical health. Once you understand all of these components, you can develop a more grounded mindset.

Continue reading for more on how to cultivate groundedness.

How to Cultivate Groundedness

When we fixate on success and optimization, we lose sight of the bigger picture and forget how to be grounded, and we fail to look after aspects of our lives that are essential for our health, well-being, and ability to find fulfillment. To pursue your goals and dreams without sacrificing your well-being and happiness, you must shift your focus from rote productivity to a lifestyle of groundedness—the internal strength and self-assurance to withstand life’s challenges. There are six core elements of this sustainable approach to success. The elements are interdependent, and cultivating one enhances the others. In this article, we’ll explore each in detail.

(Shortform note: In Working Hard, Hardly Working, Grace Beverley agrees that continuously striving for maximum productivity isn’t an effective approach to success and advocates an alternative groundedness approach. This approach consists of six principles, but Beverley suggests more simply that you balance productivity and self-care. She argues that you shouldn’t see self-care and productivity as opposites, but instead, as complements to one another: Being productive creates room for self-care, and practicing self-care energizes you so you can be more productive, thus allowing you to sustainably pursue success.)

1) Accept Your Reality

The first element of groundedness is seeing your reality for what it is and accepting it with compassion and understanding. When we face difficult circumstances, we can either choose to accept the truth of what we’re facing or we can ignore the severity of our problems and refuse to acknowledge the causes behind them. Ignoring them only causes more pain and suffering because ignoring our problems won’t make them go away. Instead, our problems linger, causing us to feel more negative emotions like frustration, shame, and sadness.

For example, if you’re struggling with financial debt because of poor spending habits, downplaying the severity of your debt will prevent you from taking positive steps. You’ll likely continue spending beyond your means and will accumulate even more debt, which will only push you further into emotional distress.

(Shortform note: Experts say that ignoring and avoiding problems is ineffective for two reasons. First, by avoiding a situation, we reaffirm our belief that the situation is frightening or dangerous. Second, avoidance can become addictive. Each time we avoid a situation, we experience a sense of relief which our brains interpret as a reward, which further motivates us to keep evading the situation.)

2) Live Fully in the Present

The second element of groundedness is living fully in the present moment. This is when you give your undivided attention to what’s happening now instead of dwelling in the past, thinking about the future, or multitasking. Being present allows you to experience your life more richly and be more intentional with how you use your time and energy.

Obsessing over self-improvement makes it hard to live in the present: When you’re constantly analyzing the past, worrying about the future, or going through your to-do list in your head, you scatter yourself in too many directions instead of focusing on what matters to you.

(Shortform note: This principle of living fully in the present moment is similar to the concept of mindfulness. According to Buddhist monk Bhante Gunaratana in Mindfulness in Plain English, mindfulness is the key to finding long-lasting peace and satisfaction with your life. To practice mindfulness as he describes it, when you focus on the present, you also practice detachment: You observe things as they are without attaching concepts, ideas, or emotions to them. This is important because a major source of our unhappiness is our tendency to categorize experiences as good, bad, or neutral—something we may naturally do when we pursue self-improvement.)

3) Slow Down and Trust the Process

The third element of groundedness is patience: Learn to slow down and trust the process.

Anything worth doing takes time to achieve, whether it’s developing a skill, creating a piece of artwork, or building a career. If you try to rush your results, you’ll either burn out or give up from disappointment. But if you give your project time and space to unfold, and devote sustained and steady effort to it, you’ll get the results you hope for.

(Shortform note: Slowing down has benefits beyond giving you focus and energy to achieve your goals. In The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, John Mark Comer writes that when you slow your pace, you also improve your patience. Patience makes you more relaxed as you’ll stop feeling anxious when things take time. It also helps you treat others better, improving your relationships.)

4) Accept Your Whole Self

The next element of groundedness is acceptance of your whole self. This means you embrace yourself as you are with all your weaknesses as well as your strengths.

Many people try to hide behind a mask of perfection. You might want others to see you as the perfect CEO, student, or parent when such a status is unattainable. When you don’t match the image you present yourself as, however, you’ll be insecure and feel like an imposter.

On the other hand, being open to vulnerability helps you be more comfortable with who you are. This means accepting your flaws and weaknesses and not being afraid to reveal them to others. You might fear that admitting your flaws will make you look weak in front of others, but it has the opposite effect: Studies show that people actually find expressions of vulnerability courageous. It also helps others better connect with you by making them feel more comfortable and trusting toward you.

(Shortform note: Embracing your flaws and weaknesses can be easier said than done. In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown explains that everyone experiences shame, or the feeling that you’re not good enough. She writes that to be vulnerable and accept your whole self, you must first cultivate your sense of worthiness—the conviction that you deserve to be loved just as you are. You can do this by accepting yourself unconditionally, rejecting the belief you must meet others’ expectations or standards, recognizing that you don’t need to prove or earn your worth, and believing you deserve love and belonging.)

5) Nurture Strong Relationships

Practicing vulnerability helps you foster the next element of groundedness: Having strong and meaningful connections with others. Being a part of a community prevents loneliness and gives you a sense of belonging—one of our basic human needs.

Loneliness takes a toll on our mental, emotional, and physical health. Studies show that loneliness causes increased stress and inflammation and puts you at higher risk for illnesses like heart disease, anxiety, and depression. In today’s culture, our fixation with productivity and success leads many of us to neglect our relationships, and according to research, people have become three times lonelier in recent decades.

6) Take Care of Your Physical Health

Lastly, the sixth element of groundedness is taking care of your physical health. Experts especially emphasize the importance of staying active, as we often neglect exercise when we prioritize success and productivity—to our detriment. Our bodies aren’t designed to sit for long hours. For most of human history, humans were constantly on the move, and only in recent times have we become sedentary. This has resulted in many health problems, such as a higher risk of mental illness and chronic diseases.The key to counteracting these negative health effects is to move your body frequently throughout the day. You don’t need to do strenuous or time-consuming workouts—come up with some simple ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine. For example, you could take short breaks to walk or stretch.

How to Be Grounded: The 6 Elements of Groundedness

Becca King

Becca’s love for reading began with mysteries and historical fiction, and it grew into a love for nonfiction history and more. Becca studied journalism as a graduate student at Ohio University while getting their feet wet writing at local newspapers, and now enjoys blogging about all things nonfiction, from science to history to practical advice for daily living.

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