How to Be More Mindful When You’re Not
“If someone comes along and shoots an arrow into your heart, it’s fruitless to stand there and yell at the person. It would be much better to turn your attention to the fact that there’s an arrow in your heart.” — Pema Chödrön
The word “mindful” is popping up everywhere. It’s gotten to the point that if you don’t know what it means to be mindful then maybe you’re not, or at least not enough to know what it means by definition, which is to be “conscious or aware of something.” I think if you asked most people if they considered themselves conscious or aware, they would probably say “yes” or yes for the most part, but if you asked them if they are aware of when they’re not being mindful, they probably would say “not as much.”
It’s easier to be mindful when you make a point of doing it, but since our lives are spent going from thing to thing or place to place most of the time, we can get so swept up in the “doing” that we barely have time to think about “how” we’re doing it.
The key is to know when we’re doing something not as mindfully as it could be, and catch ourselves in the moment to change it. By doing that, we can get that much better at sharpening our awareness, and when we slip into being less mindful, we’ll know it right when it’s happening, and turn it around.
Here are some ways to be more mindful when you’re not:
1. If you’re multitasking, ask yourself what percentage you’re focused on each thing. Whatever’s the lowest, stop doing it, and if you can just do one thing at a time, even better.
2. If someone’s talking to you and you’re half listening to them, make an effort to give them your undivided attention.
3. If you’re walking your dog and on the phone, you’re not giving your dog the attention they
deserve, or taking in your surroundings. Put your phone away and enjoy your dog and your walk.
4. If you have a habit of being late, ask yourself if you would do that if you had an interview for a job, or going to someone’s wedding. Try to be on time for everything you do.
5. If you’re not in a good mood and talking to someone with a curt tone in your voice, tell them you’ll talk to them when you’re feeling better.
6. If you’re driving in busy traffic and can’t stop to let someone go in front of you, you’re only thinking of yourself. Try to let one car go ahead of you each day.
7. If you’re with someone or doing something, and thinking about where or what you have to do next, you’re not being in the present. Try to be with what you’re doing fully.
8. If you haven’t smiled at one person the entire day, you haven’t made someone else feel better. Smile at least one stranger a day.
If you can be honest with yourself when you’re not being as aware or conscious as you could be, you can minimize your chances of slipping into less mindful behavior again.
Let that person go in front of you in busy traffic, and try and do it with a smile!