A mindfulness practice could help you live a more positive and fulfilling life. A basic definition of mindfulness would be: living in the present moment; but there is so much more to it than that. It helps you live in the present, but it also helps you live with gratitude, kindness, curiosity, and self-compassion.
I really got interested in the practice of mindfulness when I came across a new book on the topic at the library. I ended up buying it and highlighting it like crazy because the things the author talks about are so so important. The book, which I’ve read cover to cover three times now, is Good Morning, I Love You by Shauna Shapiro.
Benefits of Mindfulness
There are so many benefits to living mindfully, here are just a few:
- Increased happiness
- Increased compassion
- Increased life satisfaction
- Decreased anxiety
- Decreased depression
- Increased attention
- Increased memory
- Increased creativity
- Reduced mind wandering
- Improved immune function
- Decreased chronic pain
- Better sleep quality
- Decreased levels of cortisol
All of these benefits are proven from a large body of scientific studies.*
Mindfulness helps you to stay connected with the most meaningful things in life. When you live in the present moment, you find it easier to appreciate the little things and to be grateful for what you have.
The Mindful Pause
Mindfulness also helps you become less reactive in life.
Say you’re in a situation when you accidentally snap at a loved one. Practicing mindfulness allows you to have a mindful pause* between the stimulus and your reaction. If you were practicing mindfulness in that situation, you would pause and reflect on how snapping at that person wouldn’t help the situation and would only hurt your love one’s feelings.
The mindful pause helps you to not jump into automatic negative reactions and instead think objectively before responding. Mindfulness keeps you in a better state of mind.
Three Pillars of Mindfulness
Integrate these foundational concepts into your day to live more mindfully.*
Setting an intention helps us focus on what we find most important. If we set an intention every morning, we’re keeping in mind what matters to us throughout the day and as we make choices.
A simple intention could be to live a calm day if you’ve been struggling with stress and anxiety. Or you could want to live a love-filled day if you’re celebrating a special occasion surrounded by family.
This is the part most people know about mindfulness: living in the present moment. Don’t constantly focus on past events or plan all the time for the future. Pay attention to each moment as it happens, because all we really have is this moment right now.
As Shapiro says in her book “Where we focus our attention becomes our life.”*
How we pay attention is as important as the fact that we are paying attention. If you live in a state of negativity and stress, you won’t be happy.
Living with an attitude of kindness and curiosity opens us up to appreciate everything that comes our way. It helps us to become more adaptable and loving to ourselves and others.
Easy Mindfulness Tools
One of the best ways to help strengthen your mindfulness practice is through meditation. Pop over to the post I made on meditation and read up on how you can get started with a daily meditation practice.
Meditation will you help you strengthen your ability to observe rather than react to situations. You can start your morning off with some meditation and set an intention for the day.
The video above is part of a guided mindful meditation playlist. These guided meditations can help jump start your meditation practice.
Pausing to think about what we’re grateful for reminds us of the most important things in life. Writing down three things you’re grateful for everyday can shift your mind into a more positive place. The more you think about what you’re grateful for, the more you’ll notice how much good there is in your life.
3. Generosity and Kindness
Being generous and kind to others, making them happy, makes you feel good. It’s that simple.
“A side effect of kindness is happiness,”–David Hamilton.*
Start small: Hold the door open for someone. Leave a bigger tip than you normally would. Compliment someone’s outfit. Donate blood.
4. Slow Down
The easiest way to bring more mindfulness into your life is by slowing it down. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Live with less urgency. Don’t multitask.
Get up an hour earlier before work so you have time to really sit and enjoy your morning coffee and listen to the birds chirp outside. Eat your lunch sitting at a table instead of eating it while you’re out running errands.
Suggested Reading List
Here’s a few books if you want to read up some more on mindfulness.
- Good Morning, I Love You, by Shauna Shapiro
- I highly recommend this book. She has so many valuable mindfulness practices that can help bring more joy to your life. Also all the information in her book is backed by research. She has a thorough notes section of the scientific papers she cites.
- The Mindful Place of Calm, by A. Paul Miller
- Miller teaches you how to keep the meditate feeling with you throughout your day. He goes over several different ways to meditate. One might stick for you!
- Radically Happy, by Phakchok Rinpoche
- This is more of a guide on meditation, but is super relevant to mindfulness and talks about how to live a happier life. A lot of concepts they talk about here, you also see in Shapiro’s book.
- Be Mighty, by Jill A. Stoddard
- This book is on how mindfulness can help us as women combat the double standards and pressure society puts upon us.
I hope you get something out of this post because mindfulness can truly change your life.
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*The Benefits of Mindfulness, the Mindful Pause, the Three Pillars, and Mindfulness Tools all comes from Good Morning, I Love You by Shauna Shapiro. For additional information beyond what I went over, read this book!