Mindfulness is IN people.
Mindfulness is as trendy as a tapered pant (Are those still in?). Everywhere you look people are stuffing it down our throats.
- “BE MINDFUL IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE!”
- “Depressed? Just be mindful! Anxious? Practice mindfulness!“
- “How Mark Zuckerberg uses mindfulness and why you should too!” <— These are my personal favorite, as if when we use mindfulness we TOO will become billionaires!
But what does it REALLY mean to be mindful?
- Does it mean you have to sit in solitude in a zen den?
- Does it mean you need to be a monk in a monastery?
- Do you need to take deep breaths and completely empty your mind of all thoughts?
- Do you need to sit cross legged? In downward dog? Cat-cow?
Short answer: NO.
Mindfulness is not just for hippies, or therapists, or yogis. In fact, many of you are probably mindful throughout your day already and don’t even know it yet.
Here is one example (of many) of how mindfulness can help improve your life. No yoga mat or zen den required!
How being mindful can help us see the small victories
Life is made of tiny victories, not huge accomplishments.
It is the sum of these tiny victories that equates to contentment.
For example, contentment doesn’t come the minute you get married. Contentment comes with each healed conflict, kiss goodnight, “I love you,” and all the other tiny idiosyncrasies that happen throughout your day.
Life itself is a gradual process, so it makes sense that success, happiness and contentment would follow suit.
Here is where mindfulness comes into play, and why it is so important! One aspect of mindfulness is keeping yourself in the present everyday so you don’t miss all of the tiny victories.
How does one do that? I have a couple suggestions:
Try to look out for what I call the “if, then” mindset.
- “IF I get this job, THEN I will finally feel fulfilled.”
- “IF we get married, THEN all of our problems will be fixed because we’ll be dedicated to one another.” <—- ( I HIGHLY advise against this notion, btw)
- IF I could spend more money on clothes, THEN I would feel better about myself.”
Listen, I’m not saying to not have dreams. Dream big! But, don’t forget to celebrate all the tiny steps you take toward your goal.
Instead of waiting to be happy with yourself once you finally get the body you want, why not congratulate yourself for going to the gym that day?
Instead of daydreaming about having the perfect job and all the money in the world, why not congratulate yourself for killing your presentation that morning?
If you’re so focused on what life will look like once you’ve “made it,” you’re:
A. Never going to get there. If we are too focused on one single, all-encompassing goal, it’s really easy to just create a new, even better and shinier goal once we get there. You will find yourself on a never-ending quest to fulfill bigger and bigger goals.
B. Going to miss the good stuff along the way. TINY VICTORIES PEOPLE.
Mindfulness in this context simply means paying attention. Bring your thoughts back down to the present. Take your head out of the “If, Then” cloud and look around.
That’s it! There are countless ways to use mindfulness, and each person benefits from it differently. If you are able to sit and meditate for 20 minutes a day, GREAT! If you practice mindfulness on the yoga mat, GREAT! The point here is you don’t need to be a pro or take a class to start incorporating mindfulness right NOW.