Eighty percent of the world’s most successful people have some sort of daily mindfulness habits. Mindfulness is a state of purposeful attention in the present. These habits can help you cope with stress more effectively, manage your emotions better, and improve your focus and productivity (1).
Most of us go through our days without taking many moments to pause and reflect on what we’re doing. When you are mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or bad. Life is anything but predictable and never exists at a single, steady pace. It is a roller coaster of change and emotion, and just when you think you’ve managed to get things under control, a hurricane of stimulants sweep through your mind, and your positive habits are thrown into disarray.
However, with a focused effort, we can take the time to slow back down. Through mindful living practices, we can find more happiness, joy, and meaning in our lives (2).
When we live in the moment, we allow a stream of fresh information to flow into our minds by way of our senses. This present moment mindfulness is like fresh air for the mind that cleans out any mental debris that has accumulated and allows new information and new habits to form (3).
Just as our houses need a good spring clean, so too do our minds. Like the dust and dirt that accumulates in our homes, our minds get stuffed full of their own rubbish.
Negative thoughts, unhealthy mental habits, blocked emotions—these are all toxins that pollute the mind and prevent us from achieving our optimum mindset. But how, exactly, do you clean the mind?
The key is to live in the moment with these mindful habits.
1. Practice gratitude
It is important to take daily notice of the blessings we receive; it reminds us to find joy in the smallest of things. As we practice gratitude, we become increasingly aware that there’s always something to be thankful for, even in the bleakest situation
2. Wake up Early
Choosing to awaken a little earlier in the morning not only allows you to begin your day with mindfulness but also extends the amount of time you have to enjoy life.
Give it a try for a week or so. You may be surprised at how much more you enjoy your mornings with just a few extra minutes.
3. Spend time outside
Spending a little time outdoors can be another way to achieve mindfulness, and you don’t need to go to a far-off retreat to get the desired results. All you have to do is take a walk around your neighborhood. If you have some nice trails, parks, or green spaces, they can make the perfect environment for getting in touch with nature and for connecting with the present moment.
4. Set a Cyclic Alarm
Set an alarm to ring every few hours to remind you to stop what you’re doing and objectively observe how you are thinking and feeling for a minute or two. This is a simple way to bring your awareness back to centre and prevent being swept along on autopilot.
In a sense, meditation is the art of mindfulness. In meditating, you are taking the time to connect with your mind. It does take some time to practice controlled breathing and to shutout all of the distractions, but it can be beneficial in so many ways. Along with it being a time for mindfulness, it can also be great for relaxation and stress relief.
6. Do a Mindful Body Scan
The simplest way to get in touch with how you’re feeling is to do a mindful body scan. A body scan is a meditative practice in which you focus on each part of every area, often beginning at the toes and moving to the head.
The key here is to train your attention on each specific part for a moment and pay close attention to how you feel.
7. Eat Slowly
Whether we are losing weight, eating healthy, or simply enjoying our food, mindful eating can help.
When we eat slowly, focusing on the sensory composition of food, we gain much more appreciation for both the body and the food that fuels it. At dinner, sit at the table and intentionally eat slowly. Take the time to appreciate the food on your plate. Eat mindfully. Be present in every bite.
8. Breathe deeply
Yoga teachings say that the longer the breath the longer you live. There are many breathing exercises you can do right now to get in touch with the present moment. From Sheetkari Pranayama, Supta Konasana, and Ujjayi.
Inhale and slowly count to three, then exhale and do the same again. Employ your entire torso: your nostrils, throat, collarbones, ribcage and diaphragm. Feel the rush of fresh, oxygenated blood fill you with renewed life
9. Focus On One Task at a Time
By dividing your attention up for multiple tasks, you are not giving any of them the attention that they need. In fact, studies have found that multitasking increases the possibility of mistakes and it takes longer than doing the tasks separately.
Take one task at a time and put your focus on the task at hand. When you are done, take a short break and then tackle the next task. It is a more relaxed and mindful way to get things done, and it will likely improve your performance.
10. Read More
Reading is a form of meditation, and a wonderful way to bring the mind home. Reading triggers some of the same effects as meditation: a slowing of thoughts and calming of the mind, reduced heart rate and a heightened ability to focus.
11. Make Your Bed Mindfully
Making your bed is considered a “keystone” habit. Making your bed in the morning is correlated to more productivity, a sense of well-being, and even better budgeting skills. It sets the tone for accomplishment throughout your day when you complete this one task the moment you get out of bed.
12. Create Something
If you have a creative hobby, this can also be a good opportunity to practice mindfulness. Spend some time doing what you enjoy and just be in the moment of creation. Whether you like to draw, paint, build, or take photographs, your creative side is mindful of its very nature. As an additional point, the practice of mindfulness can encourage creativity
13. Write in a Journal (or with “Morning Pages”)
Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages – they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind – and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand.
Working through Morning Pages or writing in a journal for ten minutes is an excellent mindfulness habit because you completely focus on putting your thoughts onto paper. It’s a way to liberate your mind from the mental chatter that can set your morning off to a negative or anxious start.
Notice how each of these tools are easy, fast, and free. The only thing keeping you from the mindfulness you want is simply making the choice to take action. Even starting with just one of these tools or habits will lead to results.