So many of us spend our days just running from moment to moment. We are busy, have demands coming from several different areas of life, and simply don’t feel like there is time to stop and smell the roses. We wonder if we can get the rose scent in a to-go package.
I know, I have been there.
However, with a focused effort, we can take the time to slow back down. Through mindful living practices, we can find more happiness, joy, and meaning in our lives. That said, being mindful is not as easy as it sounds. It is a habit that you have to develop. On that note, I have put together a list of eight habits that have helped in my quest to be more mindful.
#1 Sit in the morning
The morning offers a great opportunity to practice your mindfulness. The day is just beginning, it is nice and quiet, and you may have a few moments to yourself. Instead of getting out of bed and rushing through a morning routine, I like to sit for a few minutes. I think about being thankful for the day and just let myself be in the present.
You might just choose to sit on the couch and concentrate on controlled breathing, or can also take up meditation. I find that doing so helps me to start each day off with the right frame of mind.
#2 Eat mindfully
When was the last time you truly appreciated a meal? It’s understandable. Your life is busy, and as a result, eating has become something done in passing. We have fast food restaurants we can drive through and eat as we drive even. Instead, I encourage you to try slowing down, making food yourself, and eating purposefully. Choose live foods with a variety of different colors, textures, and flavors. Take the time to really chew and appreciate each bite. Doing so is better for your digestion and can be a very enjoyable and relaxing time.
As an additional point, so many of us bring distractions to the table. Some people watch TV, others read, and some might not be able to put down their smartphone. It might seem like a good way to pass the time when you eat, but you are missing the chance to be mindful and truly enjoy the meal.
#3 Spend time outside
Spending a little time outdoors can be another way to achieve mindfulness, and you don’t need to go to a far-off retreat to get the desired results. All you have to do is take a walk around your neighborhood. If you have some nice trails, parks, or green spaces, they can make the perfect environment for getting in touch with nature and for connecting with the present moment. Observe what you see on your walk, how the weather feels, what you hear, and what you smell.
In a sense, meditation is the art of mindfulness. In meditating, you are taking the time to connect with your mind. It does take some time to practice controlled breathing and to shutout all of the distractions, but it can be beneficial in so many ways. Along with it being a time for mindfulness, it can also be great for relaxation and stress relief.
#5 Focus on one task at a time
I used to think that it was efficient to take on as many tasks as I could. It is almost intuitive to believe that it is better to do more at once, but it is not true. By dividing your attention up for multiple tasks, you are not giving any of them the attention that they need. In fact, studies have found that multitasking increases the possibility of mistakes and it takes longer than doing the tasks separately.
Take one task at a time and put your focus on the task at hand. When you are done, take a short break and then tackle the next task. It is a more relaxed and mindful way to get things done, and it will likely improve your performance.
#6 Feel Feelings
In being mindful, you don’t want to avoid your feelings. Part of it is being in the present moment, just the way that it is. At some times, that might include feelings of joy, but you don’t want to try to force happy thoughts or resist any particular emotional response. Sometimes, you just need to accept unpleasant emotions as a part of the moment. Accept disappointment, sadness, anger, jealousy, etc. as what they are and allow yourself to feel them. You, of course, want to be mindful of how you react to the feelings but it is healthy to acknowledge them for what they are.
#7 Create Something
If you have a creative hobby, this can also be a good opportunity to practice mindfulness. Spend some time dong what you enjoy and just be in the moment of creation. Whether you like to draw, paint, build, or take photographs, your creative side is mindful by its very nature. As an additional point, the practice of mindfulness can encourage creativity. When you are taking a walk or meditating, you may find that new and creative ideas come to you more easily.
#8 Engage in Physical Activities You are Passionate About
It is easiest to be mindful when we are doing something that we enjoy and which requires the attention of the body and mind. For example, surfing, soccer, basketball, or cycling. If you lose your mindfulness while engaging in these activities, it can mean a missed goal or getting rolled around in a breaking wave. By finding an activity you enjoy, you can spend time completely engaged which can teach you how to carry that mindfulness into other areas of your life.
For me, these are just a few of the habits that I have found to be beneficial for increasing mindfulness, but different things will work for different people. When you are more mindful and in the present, you will feel like you have gained a new sort of control over your life. It will help you to find an overall happiness that isn’t so fleeting. Try a few of these methods out and see the difference that mindfulness can make. I would love to hear what works for you in the comments below.