Research shows that practicing and increasing mindfulness can improve concentration, memory, and the ability to learn new things, which in turn boosts productivity. Here are simple strategies to increasing mindfulness.
Whenever we are in a new environment, most of us know to be mindful of our surroundings. If it’s a country whose traffic patterns are different from ours, we should be very mindful as we cross the street.
When we are at a new company, we should be mindful of the unsaid but established culture. When at a party of diverse people, we should be mindful of our words and how we express our opinions.
In a world where things happen a mile a minute along with where our society is continuously changing and becoming new, we must be vigilantly mindful. We must be aware of what is going on around us, and also with us— our outer and inner world.
Excellent and wise choices are rarely if ever, made accidentally in haste and anxiety. Although a trip to the mountains or the lake would be ideal, most of us do not have the luxury to go there— logistically or financially.
Here are, therefore, seven simple strategies you can take today to become and to be more mindful in as little as thirty seconds:
1. Turn standard things into extraordinary things
In a religious context, a sacrament or ritual is an ordinary act performed in a particular way that makes it sacred. To be more mindful of the world and our world, we can learn to turn the ordinary and everyday stuff of life into sacraments. We can imbue purpose and meaning into the things and activities that we regularly do to remind us of the greater significance.
For example, do not just grab whatever semi-clean clothes you can find, put them on, and then go about your day. Do not treat those clothes as merely something you have to wear for appropriateness or social norms. Instead, prepare your outfit the night before or spend a few moments looking at each piece. Recognize it as your uniform of the great gift you have— your job. Make putting on your work clothes a sacred act of reminding yourself your work makes a difference in people’s lives, whether it be your clients or your family.
2. Create moments of pause
Although we are busy, most of us still have time. It’s not so much a matter of having time as it is making time.
Despite popular belief, it doesn’t take as much time as one thinks to slow down and become mindful. Although lots of time is beneficial, this is not an all or nothing situation. If you do not have hours of free time every day to do things slowly and meditate for hours, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible to be mindful.
Simple practices such as setting an alarm every few hours to take a couple of minutes, even 30 seconds, to forcibly stop what you are doing and breathe can dramatically help and slow you down. Isn’t it a simple way to increasing mindfulness?
“The key is in not spending time, but in investing it.” – Stephen R. Covey
3. Develop gratitude
Gratitude is, by far, one of the most proven pathways to increasing mindfulness and toward happiness. You can keep a gratitude journal and record small or big things you are thankful for each day or leverage moments in your day.
It is customary in many cultures to take a moment before eating to say a prayer or make an acknowledgment of gratitude. Why not stop for a moment before you eat, just for even 30 seconds, to acknowledge how fortunate you are to eat a nourishing and delicious meal when the majority of the world cannot and certainly in the past, has not? Take a moment to appreciate not just the meal, but all the things you have in life, such as your family, friends, and your life.
4. Do things by hand
Years ago, when machines and robots were coming into the world, everyone thought that eventually, no one would have to work, or at least, work very little. Since the invention of technology, however, work has seemed to increase.