How to Live Mindfully

Sometimes, we find ourselves focusing on the “would have,” “could have” and “should have’s” of life. We contemplate our past actions or worry about the future. Maybe it’s time to put those thoughts aside and take action.

What can you do? Consider living “mindfully” instead. Living mindfully is the practice of allowing yourself to be in an awake and present-minded state. You can train yourself to slow down and connect back to yourself and the world. Research supports that living mindfully increases a person’s well-being, happiness and satisfaction with life. Here are a few tips on how live mindfully.

Internalize your focus: Pay attention to your mood, thoughts, feelings and body sensations. Your body is the best indicator that you are reacting to something or someone in the present moment.  You can do this by practicing a daily meditation of a few minutes, or by slowing down and taking a few deep breaths.

Externalize your focus: Pay attention to what’s around you. Use your five senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch) to connect with the world outside of yourself. This can help you feel grounded and engaged in the moment.

Accept people and things as they are: There are some situations that cannot or will not change, even when you pour all of your effort into them. This can leave you feeling frustrated, exhausted, or dissatisfied. Don’t suffer; liberate yourself by accepting those things that cannot be changed. By doing this, you are freeing yourself and allowing yourself to put your energy towards something more productive.  

Learn to tolerate discomfort: People often rush through the uneasiness in order to feel “better” or “happy.” However, it’s the discomfort that helps us identify that something’s not quite right.  By tolerating the discomfort, you can learn more about yourself and proceed thoughtfully. You can also gain confidence when you make it through those feelings.

Let go of expectations and the need to control: If you hold a certain belief of how someone should be acting or treating you, or how a situation should play out, you may find yourself disappointed when the reality doesn’t match the expectation. By letting go of what “should” happen, you bring spontaneity and surprise into your life. You can experience something that you may have never imagined–something that could actually improve your life.

Be curious and grateful: Too often we are stuck in our ways, and we think we know how things should be or how people are. Instead, be curious—explore and experiment with people, places and things. You may learn something about yourself, others, or the world that surprises and/or interests you. The other side of curiosity is being grateful for what you have. Taking stock in what you feel grateful for having in your life is a wonderful reminder that things could be worse.

Living mindfully takes practice; it won’t happen overnight, but it is something that you can master over time. There’s no such thing as the “perfect” way of living mindfully, so figure out what techniques work best for you. Be gentle on yourself, stay committed to a daily practice, and enjoy the benefits of living mindfully.