You don’t have to be a Zen master to perfect mindfulness, you just have to pay attention in the present moment in a particular way, on purpose and with no judgment.
Not convinced? Well, just like everything, mindfulness becomes easier the more you do it.
What consumes your mind controls your life …
Mindfulness is achievable and it is accessible to everyone who wants to practice it on a daily basis. It’s a little bit like pruning your garden.
If you think of your mind like a garden and thoughts are the seeds you plant and emotions are what waters and fertilises your garden … you can either grow flowers, or weeds, depending on what you feed your mind.
So … on a regular basis, do some weeding, and always water and fertilise the seeds that will bloom into magnificent things!
The opposite of mindfulness is mindlessness
You cannot be fully engaged with your environment if you are mindless – either too caught up in yourself, or too focused on what’s happening around you. Being mindless is bad for your productivity and it ends up leaving you sort of directionless, wandering around wondering what your life is all about.
We all get pulled into the past or the future, and neither of it is healthy. There is now a tonne of research that tells us that being stuck in the past creates depression and being stuck in the future creates anxiety. So … why do we keep torturing ourselves? We have the ability to choose, and to set our mind to live here in the ‘present’ moment.
Make yourself a priority …
Mindlessness is not a flaw of character, it is simply a consequence of the way your mind functions. The human brain is geared to organise information through action oriented patterns … in other words it automatically jumps to conclusions, like for example, if you don’t get a promotion, you think to yourself: ‘Ugh, they don’t think I’m good enough’ or ‘I never should have applied for the job, now I look stupid.’
This is not an efficient and productive way of thinking – in fact it’s quite destructive and the simple fact of the matter is there is no evidence to suggest any of it.
Alternatively, a much healthier and emotionally intelligent response would be to realise that you didn’t get the job because there is something else coming along for you.
Because life is full of limitless possibilities. And there are always opportunities flowing in and out of our experience.
Don’t’ believe everything you think …
When you can stop for a moment – and be mindful – and just observe what you’re thinking – whether its positive or negative, you’re truly in control. Because in that one instant, instead of choosing thoughts that made you feel sad, stuck and powerless, you can choose thoughts that present a brighter, more optimistic set of circumstances.
Suddenly then, even in the face of an outcome you weren’t hoping for, life seems good, instead of dissatisfying.
When you can be mindful you achieve emotional growth and resilience, because you will have tamed your ‘emotional’ or ‘default’ reaction and chosen to move forward in a far more productive mindset. Being mindful doesn’t allow you to simply ‘ignore the issue’ but it does enable you to see your disappointment at the outcome of the situation for what it is. It enables you to separate emotional response from objective response and give yourself a chance to choose what your next move will be.
After all, it’s your life. There are always setbacks and challenges and despite all the will in the world sometimes we don’t always get what we want. But when we practice mindfulness, we stay present, and we are able to build much more rewarding lives.