If you’ve already heard of mindful living, you may have perhaps written it off as new age fluff – it’s understandable. The mindfulness space at large has been saturated with content, which, at times, offers a fairly reductionist view of the concept. It may be well-intentioned. But it doesn’t change the fact that you’re often left wondering how to engage with it as a lifestyle. You can practice all the exercises you want. But if you’re simply repeating them without knowing how or why they’re helping, it’s not a great starting point. You’re far less likely to stick it out over the long-term – or even know whether you’re gaining anything from your efforts.
The Real Truth About Mindful Living
Mindful living requires your participation. It isn’t a one-time solution or magic bullet to set things right before carrying on with your day. What it actually represents is a collection of skills, perspectives, and techniques that you apply in a variety of situations to either correct your decision-making process or improve the quality of your life. Mindful living isn’t a defined technique. It’s an umbrella term for which your entire practice of mindfulness is included.
Mindful living is the process you engage in every day – emphasis on the word process. It’s something you build up over time and will constantly evolve based on your current needs and how far you’ve progressed in your personal development. It’s not a fixed quantity but is more akin to a way of examining your life relative to your present challenges. Your version will undoubtedly look different from the next person’s.
The truth is it can be hard work – especially in the beginning. At its core, being mindful is founded on the willingness to look at yourself in a critical light and really ask some tough questions about your character. It requires not only your active participation but the ability to put your ego aside and accept you’re not above reproach. This act of acknowledging and working through your shortcomings is about taking on the mantle of your personal responsibility.
The Long-Term Benefits of Mindful Living
It’s important to point out here that long-term benefits require your long-term effort. You can’t dip your toe in the water and decide you can’t swim. You need to make an honest effort. But once you do get into the groove of your own practice, you will start noticing some things change for you in the short-term. You won’t have to endure an endless wait to see a return for your time invested.
The most immediate benefit will be seen in your decision-making process. The act of mindful living is rooted in your actions, and for those actions to come into being, there’s a choice that needs to be made. It’s no secret we make both good and bad decisions. And it’s ok to make mistakes, but you don’t have to continue making them. Being mindful of your thoughts and pausing for consideration before you commit yourself is the very essence of mindfulness.
When you come from a place of groundedness, you become a match for more positive experiences. It heightens your awareness of other’s needs, which allows you to form considered responses instead of re-acting in “fight or flight.” This, in turn, increases your ability for problem-solving as well as improve the quality of your relationships. Instead of acting defensively, you can empathize and show compassion when necessary.
In short, your ability to communicate improves significantly. You’re able to tap into your emotional intelligence and acknowledge that you’re not always the most important person in the room. You form more authentic relations – not just with love interests – but with friends, family, and even co-workers. You become a better person. And the more you see yourself having a positive effect on people, the more it boosts your self-esteem.
Tools for Mindful Living
You can apply the concept of mindful living in an almost inexhaustible number of ways. The act of mindfulness as a meditation can be transferred to any repetitive task that requires your focus and concentration. But there’s slightly more to being mindful than that… There are two distinct approaches. The first includes the traditional techniques and exercises that form part of your daily routine. But in addition, you can adopt a variety of perspectives to question your decisions.
They’ve been divided up here into a list of techniques and perspectives for quick reference.
Here are some examples to ask yourself:
Is this [thing] a true need or a simply a want?
Is this [thing/place/person] serving me or simply an attachment?
How am I wrong in this moment?
Am I putting forward my best effort, and if not, why?