Mindfulness in 12 Steps How to live in the present and make each day a success
Being mindful doesn’t sound difficult, but it is. Life is stressful. Besides the flurry of tasks and everyday life, there’s always those nagging thoughts of the past and future. Sometimes it can seem like you are going through each day on autopilot. Don’t fret too much, we have twelve habits that can firmly plant you in the present.
If you decide to only follow one habit on this list, make it gratitude. Gratitude is easily one of the most important habits to include into your everyday life. At times, you might feel as though you don’t have that much to be grateful for. It’s okay, we’ve all been there. This is however, not true. Do you have food, water, or a place to sleep? Probably you do if you’re reading this right now. Well there you go, that’s three things you can be grateful for right now.
Expressing gratitude can be simple. It doesn’t have to be just for the big achievements in life. Rather you should use it for even the smallest things, like finally cleaning out your closet. Acknowledging your gratitude, grounds you. It brings your life into perspective and you into the present.
A way to express gratitude is to carry a coin in your pocket. Whenever you reach into your pocket for whatever reason and touch the coin, take a second to think of something you’re grateful for. This keeps you in a state of appreciation. Try it out for yourself.
This is an obvious one. What you put into your body directly influences how you feel. Think about the last time you pigged out on junk food. It probably tasted great in the moment (hopefully) but most likely left you feeling sluggish and out of sorts. Incorporating healthy foods like leafy greens and amino rich fish are a great way to clean your system and leave you feeling as good as you deserve to feel.
Being in Nature
The outdoors hold a sense of allure for a reason. Sometimes it’s just necessary to get away from the chaos of the city or the humdrum of the suburbs. Nature is beautiful and at times, awe inspiring. Taking time to be a part of nature not only has the ability to relax you but also puts things in perspective. We are just one small part of this world and sometimes that thought is freeing.
In truth, being present encapsulates everything that mindfulness is about. Life is lived in the present. When we spend so much time focused on the past or the future, we miss out on the little details in life. Our big events like graduation and getting married can seem like the moments worth living for. However, living in the present helps you realize that grabbing coffee with your co-workers or watching t.v with loved ones after a long day may just be the moments you look back on the fondest. It’s the collection of these big and small moments that make a life complete.
Mindfulness takes practice. The best way to practice it is through meditation. Meditation can seem to be either too out there or too daunting. Give us a minute to change your mind. Meditation works. Taking time to reflect and visualize is proven to reduce stress, focus your mind and make your goals more likely to end in success. There’s a reason why most of the world’s most successful people take time to meditate.
Now let’s get on to the second obstacle. Meditation isn’t as daunting as it seems. You don’t have to reach the enlightenment of a yogi or have the laser focus of a warrior monk. Taking as little as twenty minutes out of your day to meditate is plenty to be successful at this. Let your thoughts flow freely at first. Don’t dwell on these thoughts but don’t obsess about silencing your mind either. Slowly, focus your thoughts until what you want to visualize reaches the forefront. Don’t worry if you don’t get it right away. Meditation is an exercise and it takes practice.
The average working person doesn’t get nearly enough rest. That eight hours of sleep you keep missing is the minimum amount of sleep you’re supposed to be getting. We realize that getting all that sleep isn’t exactly easy. However, it’s important. How are you supposed to excel at work or on a date when you’re fighting to keep your eyes open. In short, you can’t.
Creating a sleep routine can make getting your rest much more manageable. Set a bedtime and stick to it. Avoid staring at your phone or squeezing in another episode of your favorite show right before bed as the glare from your electronics, mimics sunlight. Ultimately this makes it harder to fall asleep and keeps you out of the all important R.E.M cycle.
“A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading” (William Styron).
Books are one of the most effective tools for mindfulness. They bring about introspection and teach us about the lives and thoughts of people unlike ourselves. Read at your own pace and make it a habit. You’ll be surprised how much a good book expands your horizons.
The key to success is preparation. Setting goals not only establishes and prepares for the long term but also works to make everyday a win. Simply start the day by writing three goals you want to complete by day’s end. Make sure they’re accomplishable (so keep making a million dollars in the long term column). Completing these goals is not only productive but also fuels the fire of your continual success.
Learn about Yourself
Life is about the journey, not the destination. Therefore, it makes more sense to focus on small everyday changes to improve yourself rather than stressing about reaching some dream version of who you want to be. Take time to understand what drives you. Establish what you want and maybe more importantly, why you want it. Learning about who you are, may seem obvious but most people never truly do.
Take Things Slow
Life moves fast and as you get older, it only moves faster. Bills, your job, your family, these responsibilities pile up. It’s easy to forget to appreciate things. Slow down! Take the time to enjoy your lunch or find passion in the work that you’re doing. Slowing down not only helps you with mindfulness and being the present but also keeps you sharp and avoiding mistakes.
Celebrate your Wins
How often do you congratulate yourself. Honestly, not as much as you should. Recognizing your wins is important for your overall well being and future success. We’re not saying to turn into some monster egotist. Rather, allow for the recognition of your achievements and how your hard work got you there. Doing so takes away the feeling like you’re never where you want to be and shifts that to the mentality that you’re living life with fulfillment.
We left this one for last because it can be the hardest. Failure sucks. I don’t need to explain this. We’ve all screwed up at some point so we all know how it feels. There is, however, a flip side. Failure teaches you better than anything else. While we should always work our hardest to succeed, failure is just a part of life. Therefore one of the most important ways to be mindful is to recognize this. Come to terms with your shortcomings, work on them and improve. That’s what life is about. In the words of one of my high school professors, “progress, never perfection”.
Take a Breath
Being mindful is important for getting the most out of life. These twelve steps make being mindful, an everyday habit.
Let us know in the comments what tips you have for mindfulness or let us know how ours are working for you!