Have you ever started eating something, taken a couple of bites, then noticed all that was left was an empty bag? Or perhaps you’ve been at a great party but instead of enjoying it, all you can think about is tomorrow’s to-do lists. To be sure, we are often not present in our own lives. We often fail to notice what’s going on around us, and moreover, the blessings and positive things in our lives.
While juggling work, home, finances, and countless other demands, it’s all too easy to lose awareness of the present moment. However, tuning into the now, or more precisely, being mindful can provide several benefits—from increased tolerance to increased relationship satisfaction. According to Psychology Today, mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment. When you are mindful, you are less likely to get distracted and wish for things to be different, and you can therefore enjoy your life more fully.
How to be Mindful
So, how do you actually practice mindfulness? There are many different basic techniques, but you can simply try implementing a few simple strategies into your daily routine. Here are just a few ideas:
- Smile the second you wake up. There’s scientific proof that your facial expressions can actually influence how you feel. So, set the tone of appreciation and awareness for the next 24 hours by simply waking up and smiling. Don’t wake up with a groan and smash that alarm clock!
- Clean out your closet. Sounds silly, but it works. Physical clutter can lead to mental clutter. A clean and organized house can help you feel a sense of calm.
- Acknowledge anxiety, then let it go. Negative thoughts will always creep up, and that’s ok. But holding on to anxiety and worry is not healthy. The next time you feel anxious, acknowledge it, then simply say to yourself, “This is me worrying, but now I’m going to let it go.”
- Set goals for the future, but work hard today. Big dreams and goals are motivating, but it’s important to focus on what you can do in the moment. Nothing will help you achieve your goals faster than doing the best you can do today.
- Take 60 seconds to notice and appreciate anything beautiful. Take notice of the beauty that surrounds you—a baby, a painting, a magnificent building, etc.
If you are interested in pursuing mindfulness within a particular tradition, (i.e., Buddhist) you might want to seek a meditation instructor or take a class at a meditation center.
“We’re so busy watching out for what’s just ahead of us that we don’t take time to enjoy where we are.”