What you think about, and more importantly, what you really focus your attention on, makes all the difference when it comes to A) how happy and stress-free you are, B) how successful you are … and … C) how connected you are to what’s really important and magical about life.
If life isn’t feeling that magical to you right now, or you’ve had times … as all of us have … when you feel harried and life seems like a grind, ask yourself this question …
What’s your mind full of?
Now, if you hadn’t figured it out already, I’m attempting a bit of subtle word play here.
Everybody and his grandmother is talking about the importance of mindfulness these days. The message is simple enough and it sure isn’t anything new. The wise ones have been saying the same thing for ages. Think Zen.
Be present in the moment in everything you do. Pay attention to that which is right in front of you.
Jon Kabat Zinn throws in a couple of other distinctions.
Be mindful in the sense that you’re consciously doing what you’re doing … you’re doing it “on purpose,” and you’re doing it without passing judgment. You’ve become more observer than analyst.
But I want to start from the other direction.
Why is mindfulness important?
Because for most of us, our minds are so full of stuff that doesn’t matter … stuff that clutters and disturbs … bad stuff that has already happened or may someday occur … that it makes us regretful and anxious and seriously unfocused.
And that’s no way to live.
So, what would it do for you if you could approach everything you do and all the interactions you have with others in a completely mindful state?
Now, if this essay were another treatise on mindfulness, I would tell you that research shows the average person is in a state of mindlessness 47% of the time.
I’d say it’s a skill like any other and you can become more mindful by meditating or by simply making it a habit to do one thing at a time and focus your full attention on it. If you’re washing dishes, wash the dishes. If you’re saying goodnight to your little ones, say goodnight like it might be the last time you see ‘em. Experience each action and each encounter fully, no matter how insignificant it may seem at the time.
Don’t wash the dishes thinking about tomorrow’s to-do list. Don’t say goodnight to your kids while thinking about watching the end of the game once they’re asleep.
As John Lennon said, Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.
But this isn’t about how to achieve a mindful state.
It’s about really looking at what’s going on in your mind that would require you to become more mindful and present.
It’s about examining what you’re focused on day in and day out … hour to hour … even moment to moment.
Some questions …
Does it really matter?
Is it helping you and the people you’re living with and working with get to a better place?
Does it make you more appreciative? More joyful? Less burdened? More hopeful? More aware of possibility?
Does it make you feel lighter, smile more, sleep better, and transmit positive vibes to those around you?
If not, why are you focused on it?
Why are you focused on the “news,” somebody’s angry tweets, traffic, your aches and pains, your endless to-do list, or the problems in the world vs. solutions for those things you can affect here and now?
TUNE THAT STUFF OUT!
Why are you allowing the internal chatter to persist about how you aren’t good enough, experienced enough, well organized enough, assertive enough, or lovable enough?
STOP IT. It’s within your control to simply silence that crap. When your mind goes there, come back to what it is you’re doing right here and now and give it your full, peaceful, calm attention.
Otherwise, you’ll languish in a state of mindlessness, marching through your days half awake, half aware, constantly stressed.
And where’s the joy in that?
My advice? Be mindful.
It beats a mind that’s full every time.