You are more than just your body. You have a mind and a soul and we would be remiss if we did not talk about their health. Just like training the body there are many different exercises we can do but also in a similar fashion to how we train our bodies we want to spend most of our time working with the most effective exercises. One of the most effective practices we can incorporate into our daily lives is the practice of mindfulness.
When we talk about mindfulness we are talking about an attitude and an awareness of our lives, our activities and the people we interact with. Most of these attitudes can be organized into a few categories.
In a day and age where everyone has a smart phone and we can be sharing every aspect of our existence with the entire world and the entire world is vying for our attention it is very difficult to be present in every moment. We can start by putting our phone down when we’re with our friends and family. Give these people your full attention and enjoy even savor their company and conversation. Notice the details of their face as they share with you and honor their words by listening intently.
Not all of life is pleasant though. We don’t always get to do the things we want and it’s too easy to check out of situations that are uncomfortable or less enjoyable. Fight the urge and take it all in. By experiencing some discomfort you gain a new appreciation for the things you do enjoy. On a daily basis we get to experience this in the gym. Our training sessions are hard and often very uncomfortable but by embracing that discomfort and not avoiding it we improve our fitness. We are better for it.
There are many ways we can be more present everyday. Take a minute and think about where maybe you don’t give as much attention as you should to the people and experiences around you.
I once heard comedian Louis C.K. say, “Everything is amazing and nobody is happy.” While that was in the context of a joke it was funny because it was so true. Each of us has a lot to be grateful for and yet we don’t take the time to appreciate it. We don’t tell the people around us that we appreciate them. We constantly compare ourselves to others and feel less than.
Gratitude is an interesting thing. The more grateful you are the more you find you have to be grateful for. It’s not a magic spell that all of a sudden brings more good things into your life. It’s more like when you get a new car and think that you’re the only one that has one but almost immediately you start seeing more and more of them on the road. Your perspective has changed. Take a minute and think of some people you are grateful for but haven’t told them in a while.
Meditation is often misunderstood. People don’t know how to get started and they try to make it more difficult than it needs to be. At the most basic level meditation is taking time to think and reflect. It requires stopping what you’re doing for a set amount of time, removing as many distractions as you can and just ruminating on something.
Making a practice of meditation on a regular basis can add to you ability to be present in the moment, and to be grateful. It’s also a time you can spend reflecting on what you’re grateful for. Meditation does not have to be 30 minutes of sitting cross legged on a yoga mat burning incense. It doesn’t require a lot of work or a lot of time but it does require a little of both. It won’t happen without some effort and if your time and attention are all full up then it may require saying no to something else.
Just like training your body one really hard workout won’t make any change. It’s consistency over time that delivers the results. So take small steps and begin to develop your mindfulness and a year from now you can look back and see how much your life has changed. Take care of your mind and soul and you’ll be glad you did.
Now go live better.