“Mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally,” according to Marsha Lucas, Ph.D., psychologist and author of Rewire Your Brain for Love.
“Mindfulness,” a buzzword most of us have heard but very few are sure what it is or how to apply it to our life. Well, it simply means taking a few moments to focus on yourself and paying close attention to what’s happening at the moment. Being present is what it would mean when put in an oversimplified way.
Yes, it is just about being present and we often fail there. In the speed of life’s fast pace, we are always in so much of a hurry that we miss out taking notice of what’s happening around us. We are pretty much on sort of an auto-pilot mode. We travel between our home and office every day but seldom notice the blooming flowers on the route. This could deprive you of the many joys and opportunities which are available around you and easily accessible but you failed to take notice of.
Being mindful is not simply being alert. It is about being aware of the surroundings, actions, and emotions. It is about paying attention very carefully to your environment and being in charge of your actions. It helps you notice when you’re on autopilot and lets you change what you’re doing at the moment, rather than regretting it later. Focusing on the moment helps you avoid knee-jerk reactions and instead take actions that are well thought through and coordinated. Mindfulness also makes you stay connected to your goals and hopes. The key, however, is in not being emotional about it or without trying to judge it; just being aware.
It is no secret that the view you adopt for yourself is the strongest influence manifesting the life that you shall be
leading. Whether or not you accomplish your goals and what kind of person you are is deeply connected and dependent on the kind of picture of self you paint for yourself.
There are countless studies and researches available that show, how far we will go in life is majorly the reflection of our mindset. We have all encountered situations in life when we contemplated giving up at some point. When we felt incapacitated and couldn’t see a way ahead. This is when we submitted to a fixed mindset and assumed that abilities are inborn and immutable. It is a very limiting mindset and the most common of the reasons causing failure and to give-up.
On the contrary, a growth mindset encourages to keep striving for success. It is the belief that practice and hard work is the way to improve our capability to be able to successfully manage through the situation existing. It keeps us working towards sharpening our existing skillsets or even to acquire the new ones as the situation may demand.
Mindset is like those optical illusion images that show you more than one possibilities at once. For example the picture of, The Dress that changes colors; The Dancing black dots; The Café wall illusion. What you see is influence by a lot of factors including, what you focus on, environment, references and benchmarks used, etc. now it is up to you where you would focus and what influences would you let impact your perception and which would you filter out. Your experience is going to be dependent on the way you perceive things and your perception is solely dependent on your mindset. The good news is our mindset is not set in stone. With little effort, to control our emotions, not giving-in to the reflexes and the changes in our environment and company we keep, we can change the way look and approach things in life. We can build on ideas and beliefs we already have or even try new things. There is a definitive hope that we can grow.
What Influences the Mindset?
To stay in control of your mindset, it is important to understand the influences that make you think and look at things in a particular way – creates your perceptions. Once you understand them you could be mindful to observe whenever those influences come into play and steer your thoughts away from the ones which you don’t subscribe to.
Thinking hard about it, I have come to believe ‘Being Discouraged’ is the juncture where one finds himself/herself at the crossroads of the positive or a negative mindset. We all have experienced struggles and failures while trying to master new concepts and skills and that makes us feel discouraged. When we feel, we get the urge to give up, get disengaged, not taking our work to a conclusion, or have trouble restarting the work. But this is exactly the time when pausing after this quick reaction could be helpful to create space for a purposeful response. Being mindful of our emotions could completely change the landscape of the future. It’s what we do at that moment, determines whether you will cultivate a growth mindset or not.
To stay in charge and to continuously cultivate a growth mindset, a few considerations and adjustments in our expectations could go a long way.
Accept Failure as an Essential Step on the Way to Success: Fear of failing is the biggest influence that pushes us into a negative mindset. An environment where it’s safe to fail is the most potent for cultivating a growth mindset. Once we accept and are comfortable with failing, they are no longer as discouraging, frustrating, or scary. It is important to acknowledge the feeling but must be able to simply normalize it as part of the learning process required to grow. Keeping our expectations realistic and being conscience about the power of moods and self-talk could help with this.
Be Comfortable to Feel Your Emotions: More than often, we adopt deflection or playing a blind eye as our
response to failures. That isn’t what accepting failures mean. Being mindful, means is to be open and curious about our uncomfortable moods and mind-states. It is not about suppressing or ignoring the emotions but to build up a tolerance for frustration or disappointment, allow the mood to just be for a while, and adjust. This self-awareness will make moving on much easy.
Process Orientation Builds Confidence: We all work towards our goals but being focused only on the results breeds fear and makes space for negative scary thoughts. But when your focus is more process-based and positive, it becomes easier to build a growth mindset.
100 Meters Every Day: Being mindful is a constant regular endeavor. Be conscious of bringing awareness to the daily activities, specifically during routine activities. No more auto piloting.
Plan Your Day: To be able to achieve anything significant, the importance of proper planning is paramount. Make a habit of writing down your top priorities for the day, first thing in the morning. Capture your reflections on your purpose and what your plans and efforts are towards achieving those.
Set the Tone of Your Day Early: what better time to do so that as the first thing in the morning, as soon as you wake up, Before you get swayed away by the newspapers, WhatsApp messages, or the TV, it is important to set the tone for the day. Practicing Mindfulness first thing in the morning will surely help set the ‘tone’ and increase the possibility of the mindful moments during the rest of the day.
Don’t Cage Your Mind: Let it wander, that is what the mind is naturally designed for. Contrary to the belief, being mindful isn’t about controlling your thoughts. Rather it is about being non-judgemental and managing your emotions while bringing it back to the focal thought. Meditating and setting reminders and cues could help with this.
Be Brief: Mind actually works better in short bursts of activity, so break up lengthy stretches and keep the scope small, introduce breaks in between two activities to allow the mind to wander off before getting it to focus again. It is more productive and useful in concentrating.
Develop Good Listening: The fact that being mindful is about being aware makes listening carefully to absorb what someone else is saying is one of the best ways to be mindful. Keep the inner-voice, judgment, and any other distraction away, while speaking with anyone. Keeping eye contact will help bond with the person better and shall also help understand his feelings/emotions behind the words spoken.
Stay Happy: Do things that give you joy and a happy feeling. Listen to music, focus on ‘what’s working right now’, practice ‘transformational listening’, get out more often, meet/speak with friends, sleep well, keep gratitude and express it. Do anything that will keep you happy and help you focus towards the positives of life. Make a conscious choice to indulge in things that nourish your mind and heart.
Stay Healthy: End of the day mind is part of your body. A healthy body is necessary to house an active and healthy mind. Pay attention to your body to stay in tune with it and be aware of your energy levels, hunger pangs, aches and pains, and overall wellbeing. Make exercising, drinking sufficient water, eating slowly as your way of life
Mindfulness is a practice of training the brain to be more efficient and better integrated, with less distractibility and improved focus. It minimizes stress and even helps you become your best self. Being mindful helps develop a good mindset and a better Mindset helps augment a better life. So, mindfulness mustn’t be considered a luxury or optional. It is a powerful tool to move away from the tendency of withdrawal, avoidance, negative thinking, and other depressive symptoms, towards positive moods, being curious, approaching new things and positive thinking.