Have you ever had that experience when you’re talking to someone on the phone and you can hear them tapping away on their keyboard at the same time? Or you’re having coffee with a friend and they whip out their smartphone and start looking at it and then you’re looking at yours and then suddenly it’s like, oh, I almost forgot where I was?
I’m pretty sure I’m not alone and we’re all guilty of this at least some of the time, and we’re allowing this to become acceptable behaviour in our world. But I have to say, I really don’t feel valued and listened to when this happens to me. And yet I also do this to others.
Mindfulness is about fully experiencing every moment, from the ordinary everyday things (which can actually be pretty amazing if we pay attention) to the more outstanding and memorable experiences in our lives.
By deliberately bringing our attention back to the present moment, we train our brains to do this unconsciously, which is a good thing. One of the great modern writers on this subject, Jon Kabat-Zinn, says that you can improve the overall quality of your life, relationships and social networks by practising mindfulness.
Here are 5 Mindful Moments you can easily bring into your everyday life, that will make you happier and more connected to the people around you.
- Eat breakfast without looking at your electronic stuff. Yes, that’s right – no TV or radio, no social media, no newspaper or book. Just you and your smoothie/pancakes/etc and whoever is with you, even if it’s just the cat! If you can sit outdoors, this is even better. I’ve made a habit now of taking my brekky and sitting at the top of my stairs outside, looking out at the garden, the sky, the neighbours (not in a creepy way!), and whatever else is out there at the time. I listen to the birds, the dogs and chooks next door and the traffic, etc. There’s nothing special going on usually, yet this habit makes me feel really peaceful. I actually look forward to that little 5 minutes in the morning of being totally aware of everything that’s going on around me.
- Make an agreement with your partner (or whoever it is that you live with/share your life with, like your kids, etc) to have distraction free time together every day. Even if it’s just for 5-10minutes, I guarantee that once you agree to do this, that this time will become very precious and will extend naturally.
- Change your inner voice. Your self critic. That negative self talk that we all have that casts doubt on your decisions, that tells you that you’re an idiot for forgetting to check your appointments today (or whatever) and that makes you feel less than the person next to you. There are things we say to ourselves that we would NEVER say to another person. Treating yourself with respect and care starts with silencing that inner critic, and changing that negative self talk to positive. This will change your perspective and your behaviours.
- Notice the little things that people do for you every day and make eye contact and genuinely thank them for it. Whether it’s the barista who makes your coffee, the cleaner at your office, your child for getting ready on time, your bus driver that gets you to work or home on time. There are so many opportunities every day to notice and acknowledge the small things that impact your life. And acknowledging the person behind this will make their day, and make yours as well.
- When you’re talking to a friend, either on the phone or in person, really be there with them. Bring yourself into this time with them and remove other distracting thoughts from your mind. This takes practice and it’s worth it.
Some of these may seem like small and insignificant changes to some of you, but try it and see for yourself. I guarantee it’ll make a positive difference to your life.