Stop for a second. What are you doing? Yes, you are reading this article, but what else are you doing? Chances are, you're also responding to a text message, answering an email, eating a snack, and thinking about what you are going to have for dinner tonight. If this resonates with you, take a mindful moment to only read this article right now.
Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing your awareness on the present moment. This technique involves calmly acknowledging and accepting your thoughts and feelings (both emotional and physical). Simply put, mindfulness is not something that you do; its a mindset that you live.
Practicing mindfulness affects every aspect of your life: eating, activity, relationships, finances, happiness, productivity, etc., says Lilly Graziani, CREATION Life Education Manager at AdventHealth. Graziani has four tips for implementing mindfulness in your everyday life.
1. Take Time for a Gratitude Minute
Mindfulness is about frequently checking in with your emotional and physical wellbeing. It involves shifting your thoughts and perspective to openness, honesty, forgiveness and gratefulness. If you take a minute or even a few seconds to acknowledge things in life for which you are grateful, it creates a more positive, happy outlook.
Graziani explains, A gratitude minute is a great way to focus on the amazing things in your life. I suggest either ending or beginning your day by writing down things that you are grateful for so you are either finishing or starting your day in a very positive, uplifting way.
In addition to feeling grateful in the moment, a gratitude minute has been shown to have lasting effects. Practicing gratitude can increase your happiness levels by about 25 percent. In one study, Emmons and McCullough (2003) were surprised to find that happiness could be increased by a simple gratitude exercise. Participants took the time to write down 5 things they were grateful for once a week, for 10 weeks. At the end of the study the group was 25% happier than a comparison group who simply listed five events from the week.
2. Retrain to not Complain
We are a society that loves to be busy, exclaims Graziani. In all our hustle and bustle, we often find time to complain about our mounting tasks and the negative things in our life. Graziani continues, If you train yourself to think more positively, you tend to talk about those things more. It will make you happier, and those around you as well.
Happiness is contagious. If others are smiling and talking about pleasant things, it simply brings happiness into your life, too. It's not to say that you can't talk about things bothering you, but positioning challenges by talking about their solutions is a more constructive and mindful way to deal with hardships compared to just complaining about them.
3. Disconnect to Reconnect
We've all seen that family at a restaurant sitting around the table texting or looking at their devices the entire time, says Graziani. This family is losing a moment to connect and be mindful about their time together. If we practice mindfulness, we stop to think about who is around us and how we can use the present moment to appreciate one another.
Graziani accounts, When I was growing up we had one phone in the kitchen with a long cord and I remember walking as far as I could around the house, still tethered, to talk to my friends and family. With the evolution of cell phones, we stopped calling at home, or even calling at all. Technology is great but we are losing interconnectedness of our relationships. Being more mindful and present will help us foster our relationships and quality of life, says Graziani.
4. Tap Your Senses
It is important to take a step back and recognize when something a thought, a device, a person, a feeling - might be keeping you from enjoying your present moment. Are you on vacation standing behind your phone taking pictures without breathing in the air, seeing the beauty around you through your own lenses, or talking to a local who could provide you with some incredible insight? Are you sitting at your desk for five hours straight and not paying attention to your back that is hurting, which is a signal to get up and stretch? If you are mindful, you will begin to recognize these moments as tremendous opportunities to reconnect with yourself and the world around you.
Graziani suggests, When you have a mindful moment, stop and run through your senses. What am I seeing? What am I feeling (both emotionally and physically)? What am I hearing around me? She continues, You might realize in a split second that you are quite tired and need more sleep, so you decide to go to bed earlier that night. You might realize that the lunch you ate made you feel sluggish, so you decide to eat a healthier dinner. You might find that you're stressed and need to take a break to recharge, so you take a few vacation days. Your mind and body will usually tell you what you need you just have to listen, she concludes.
And when you do, many things in your life begin to improve: your health, your relationships, your wellbeing, your attitude the possibilities are endless.
So how did you do? Were you able to make it through by only reading this article? If not, no worries. Perhaps these four tips will help you create more mindful opportunities in the future.