Mindfulness might sound like a romantic idea that’s impossible for the average person to apply, but that’s not the case. Anyone can be a more mindful person. Here are three easy ways to embrace the present moment every day.
1. Stop and Listen
If you’re like most people, your brain is probably consumed with self-conscious thoughts all day. Here are some common examples of what I mean:
“Do I look okay?”
“I hope I don’t sound stupid.”
“What will they think of me?”
These thoughts are counterproductive for several reasons.
First, other people are far too busy worrying about themselves to care about what you are doing (read: they’re just as self-conscious as you are).
Second, these are the thoughts of a people-pleasing apologist who doesn’t have enough backbone to be authentic (I know that’s a harsh way to put it, but it’s true, so deal with it).
Third, it is silly to think in a way that makes you feel like you aren’t “good enough” (it is better to think in a way that makes you feel EPIC – encouraged, positive, inspired, and confident).
Let’s talk about that last point, because putting that principle into practice can change your life. People who are in a constant state of stress and anxiety give their thoughts too much power.
Repeating a negative thought like, “I am so stupid/fat/ugly,” will strengthen this conception so much that it becomes a self-defeating belief that’s really hard to shake off. Even worse, you might start to feel hopeless and question the point of trying to improve your standing in life.
It doesn’t have to be this way. You can CHOOSE your thoughts just like you chose what to wear this morning. Would you choose to wear a hideous outfit that makes you feel unattractive? Of course not. That would be crazy! So, why would you choose to focus on a nasty thought that makes you feel worthless?
I know it’s easier to talk about the virtues of positive thinking than it is to actually put it in practice. For now, simply be more mindful of the content of your thoughts. It might help to carry around a pocket-sized notebook everywhere you go for the next month or so. Putting your thoughts on paper tends to rob them of their power.
The next time you feel paralyzed by fear or anxiety or self-loathing, take out that notebook and express your thoughts in a stream-of-conscious writing style (no filter!). If you can be consistent with this exercise, you will probably discover that the same kinds of thoughts nag you over and over again. Your mood and disposition will gradually improve, because these thoughts will become less scary and intimidating as time goes on.
2. Eat for Pleasure
Most people are in such a hurry that they treat eating as if it is an inconvenience or interruption from the daily hustle. This is incredibly unhealthy (not to mention counterproductive), because your body requires proper nutrition to perform at its best.
Slowing down at the dinner table is a good way to put the pleasure back in eating. Chew slowly and really concentrate on the taste of your food. You could even turn this activity into a fun game by trying to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your meal.
Mindful eating can help you lose weight and feel great. Recall that mindfulness is simply an increased awareness of the sensations we experience in the present moment. Pay attention to how your body reacts in the hours following a meal. Make some notes in a diary or journal about these sensations to make sure you remember.
If a food upsets your stomach, then you probably shouldn’t eat it again.
If you feel guilty after eating a food, then you probably didn’t make a positive choice.
If you feel so stuffed that you could throw up, then you probably ate too much and need to reduce your portion sizes.
3. Achieve Flow State
“Flow” is when you get so absorbed in a task that it is the only thing on your mind. You lose track of time. Your mind stops drifting elsewhere. You are so focused on the present moment that the past and future are of no concern.
Our modern lifestyle makes it hard to achieve a state of flow. If you work in an office that is laid out with an open floor-plan, then it might be completely impossible. If flow is Superman, constant interruptions are Kryptonite, so good luck with that.
Flow is much easier to achieve when you have full control of your work environment. If you are a manager with an office, you could shut the door when you need to focus on an important project. Inform your staff that you will be unavailable for a few hours and ask them to only interrupt you in case of emergency. If you work from home, then you have a lot more freedom, so it will be easier to achieve flow.
Play around with different aspects of your work environment to see what boosts your productivity most. I did this recently and learned that noise makes a HUGE difference. Listening to music (of any genre) with vocals wrecks my focus, so now I stick with instrumental genres like classical and jazz. I even listen to bird songs sometimes, because they help me push through writer’s block (fun fact: bird songs produce a calming effect, because hearing that sound in nature would indicate that no predators are around).
How will you embrace the present moment today?
If you want to be a mindful person, tell us how you’re going to make that happen in the comments. Please share this article with your friends so they can embrace the present moment just like you.