We humans have extraordinary potentials and use only a tiny fraction of our potential. Do you wonder why? Because we are not focused. We are distracted by millions of irrelevant issues throughout our lives. If we have to realize our gigantic potential and accomplish extraordinary feats, we need to focus our attention single-mindedly to our major definite purpose. How are we going to accomplish that in this age, when our minds are attacked by millions of distractions everyday?
The answer is simple: mindfulness.
Break the Vicious Circles in Your Life
Mindfulness requires being aware of what’s going on in our minds and being able to guide our thoughts at our will. This might sound easy, if you haven’t tried it yet. In reality, our minds jump from one thought to another like crazy monkeys jumping from one tree to another. We don’t have any control over our thoughts. Most of the time, we aren’t even aware of them. That’s why our thoughts cycle around vicious circles. So, do our lives. In order to break the vicious circles in our lives, we need to break the vicious circles in our minds.
Let’s think about the following scenario. Suppose that you have a difficult day at work. You get depressed. You get yourself some junk food, a can of beer, and switch on the TV. After hours of watching TV and drinking, you realize that it is already too late to go to bed and you have to go to work the next day. As a result, you have a bad day at work again. Do you see the vicious circle here? Maybe, you don’t need to medicate yourself with junk food, alcohol, and TV after a hard day at work. Why not read a book or listen to an audiobook instead? It can be difficult to break habits. However, it all starts in your mind. It requires mindfulness.
Think about mindfulness as a mental muscle. Your mindfulness muscle is weak, if you haven’t exercised it yet. It will get stronger the more you exercise it and the more you use it.
Improve Every Area of Your Life
Think about an area of your life you want to improve. Suppose that you’re inclined to drive fast with your car. The desire to drive fast can be very sneaky. It can be too late before you become aware of it. You might have exceeded the speed limit and receive a ticket. Overcoming this habit requires mindfulness. You need to be focused on your driving all the time, pay attention to your speed and to the speed limits. You need to let go of all the other distractions. You need to switch off the radio. You need to let go of all the thoughts in your mind. You need to let go of your annoying colleague or the project that runs out of time. You need to concentrate your whole attention to your driving. Driving can be a great mindfulness exercise.
Work is also a great mindfulness exercise. If you want to produce great work, you need to concentrate single-mindedly on the task at hand and let go of all the other distractions and thoughts in your mind. The same holds for relationships. If you tend to be angry with your loved ones, you need to be mindful about this fact, when you’re interacting with them, even when you’re thinking about them.
Mindfulness results in success and growth in every area of your life. The greatest benefit is the feeling of peace that becomes your default mental state. Who wouldn’t want to go through life in peace and feeling relaxed most of the time?
The Ultimate Mindfulness Exercise
The ultimate mindfulness exercise is meditation. There’s nothing metaphysical, fancy, or esoteric about meditation. Get over the image of a monk in an orange robe sitting in a complicated posture on top of a mountain. Make meditation a part of your daily life.
- Set your alarm clock to a certain duration, for example 20 minutes.
- Sit upright on a comfortable chair.
- Close your eyes.
- Focus on your breath, in and out.
- Be aware of your thoughts, but don’t pay attention to them. Let them go.
If you find 20 minutes too long, you can start with a shorter duration and work your way up. If you find focusing on your breath difficult, you can buy a guided meditation program and listen to it. Some people meditate twice a day for 20 minutes. My favorite is to meditate for 20 minutes when I’m back from work. I alternate between guided meditation and focusing on my breath based on my mood before each session.
Meditation exercises your mindfulness muscle and makes it stronger, so that you can be more mindful throughout your daily life. It is also a great way to put your mind to rest.
Improve the Quality of Your Life by Letting Go
You might say that you don’t have 20 minutes to meditate every day. This brings me to another practice to improve your mindfulness, the practice of letting go of what doesn’t serve you. Following habits don’t serve you. Quitting them will not only improve your mindfulness, but also the overall quality of your life.
- Quit smoking, using drugs, drinking alcohol and caffeinated beverages.
- Quit watching TV, reading mainstream newspapers and magazines.
- Quit listening to radio in your car, while working or resting.
- Quit checking your email all the time.
- Quit surfing the Internet mindlessly.
- Let go of toxic thoughts, situations, and people in your life.
If you do these, you’ll have more than 20 minutes every day to meditate. It might require some willpower at the start, but once you get used to it, you’re going to look forward for your daily meditation session.
Software developer with a Ph.D. and 15 years of experience. I write daily on personal development and life lessons. Sign up to my email newsletter to receive a weekly overview of my latest content on personal development and life lessons.