The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing. Jon Kabat-Zinn
We all want to be happy.
The only problem is that stress can suck the happiness right out of life.
Instead of enjoying what a day might bring, stress causes us to become anxious about what might happen.
What if there was a way for you to set that stress aside so you could focus on the benefits of being in the present?
Here’s the good news: there is a way.
Through mindfulness, it becomes possible to explore the perfection that every moment can bring your way.
Even in stressful moments, a focus on mindfulness can make it easier to cope with a difficult situation so that you can return to a state of happiness.
Knowing how to be mindful in everyday life is what will help you to explore more of each moment.
Here are some of the most effective methods of including mindfulness with what you’re already doing every day.
#1. Wake Up with a Purpose
Don’t let the past steal your present. Cherrie L. Moraga
The alarm clock sounds. You groan and smash it as hard as you can. The day is calling and you want to stay in bed.
We’ve all experienced this feeling – especially on a Monday.
If you wake up with a purpose, however, the alarm clock can be a joyful experience.
By setting an intention the night before to bring mindfulness into your day from its very first moment, you are able to set the stage for future moments of mindfulness throughout the day.
The Minimalists have published a profound interview with Sam Harris about the benefits of waking up with mindfulness as a top priority.
So instead of sleeping as long as possible and then rushing out the door to make it to work (or school) on time, plan for a few moments of mindfulness.
It could be the key that unlocks your potential for the rest of the day.
#2. Enjoy Your Food
You’ve got a 15-minute break at work. Quick! Stuff that sandwich into your mouth as quickly as possible!
Or maybe you’ve got a bag of potato chips sitting next to your computer that you mindlessly munch on as you work, explore the internet, or read a blog post.
I tend to prefer Ruffles sour cream and cheddar chips myself for those moments.
Mindfulness calls us to look at every component of our day in a different way.
Since eating is one of the most important tasks we all have on our agenda, then it makes sense to spend more time in the moments that we eat.
Instead of rushing through the chewing and swallowing, take a moment to experience the flavors of the food.
Let the smells of it drift upwards to your nose. Embrace the textures of the food, even if it’s just a ruffled potato chip.
Taking smaller bites and eating slower can do more than just help you enjoy the food more.
There are several digestive benefits which come with a mindfulness approach to eating as well.
You may not be able to change your schedule, but you can change your approach to how you eat.
#3. Experience Your Chores
Dishes. Washing the dishes is probably my least favorite chore of them all.
Adding mindfulness to the chores that we complete every day can do more that make them palatable. It can make them be enjoyable.
We often approach chores with a mindless approach instead.
You see a task, so you complete the task, and your mind is often mostly empty throughout the process.
Think about it. The last time that you remember washing dishes, what exactly were you thinking about?
You can remember the heat of the water or the size of the mess you cleaned up, but what else were you thinking about?
With mindfulness, you can bring more meaning into your daily chores.
Mindfulness helps you to experience your chores in a brand new way.
Focus on what your hands are doing. Don’t think about the end result you’re trying to produce.
Think about that very moment.
What does it feel like to scrub a plate clean?
Do different movements create different feelings?
And what smells are floating around you? Is that dish soap? Laundry soap? The unique smell of your homemade fabric softener.
Instead of working hard to get through your chores so you can do something that is more “fun,” find the moments of joy that a chore can provide.
It really will change your day.
Nothing is worth more than this day. You cannot relive yesterday. Tomorrow is still beyond your reach. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
#4. Explore the Depths of Exercise
Walking around the neighborhood is an easy way to become more active.
Maybe there’s a gym membership as a perk with your job.
You might prefer to jog for a few miles around town instead.
Whatever the case may be, the time that you exercise is a good time to embrace the practice of mindfulness in everyday life.
Each step that you take is an opportunity to explore mindfulness.
Feel how your legs or feet impact with each step.
Even if you’re on a treadmill, you can feel how your body reacts to each step.
Pay attention to how your muscles encourage the next step to start.
Watch the slight changes of perspective as your hips swivel and the rest of your body compensates so your visual perspective doesn’t have to change much.
If you’re outside, then you can also feel the wind on your face.
The heat of sweat on your brow.
The smells of freshly mown grass, wildflowers, and all of the other components of your environment.
You’ll find that paying attention to these small moments is a lot more fun than watching something on the TV while you work out.
#5. Create Time in the Bathroom
Have you ever heard the phrase, “The only place in the world where time stands still is the bathroom?”
There seems to be some truth to this observation.
Time is relative and a bathroom becomes our personal space.
In taking care of ourselves and meeting our needs in this room, we focus less on time and more on the “experience” of our task.
This is mindfulness.
Knowing how to be mindful in everyday life also means embracing the moments of mindfulness we may already be taking for ourselves without realizing what we are doing.
Bathing is one of the best ways to create time in the bathroom to explore mindfulness.
It’s also a great opportunity to add meditation to your daily routine.
Feel how the water strikes your skin. Play with the temperatures to see how your body reacts to them.
What sound does the shower or the bathtub make as you experience these moments?
Many bathrooms also have an exhaust fan in them.
Turn it on if you can because the repetitive sound can help the brain to focus on finding the perfection in each moment.
It can be tempting to bring your smartphone or tablet into the bathroom with you, especially if you are taking a break at work or while you’re out running errands.
Avoid the temptation to use technology. This is a chance for you to unplug.
#6. Moments of Waiting
I went to the grocery store the other day.
It was unusually busy. There were 5 different checkout lines that were open, but each line easily had at least 10 people in it.
The cashiers were working as hard as they could. The lines kept getting longer and longer.
Pretty soon it was virtually impossible to even walk down the front aisle of the grocery store. It was that packed.
Many were complaining about the time they had to wait in line. They had “better things to do” than wait there to buy their groceries.
In the midst of this chaos, there were a handful of people who seemed to be lost in their own world.
They weren’t reading the tabloids, cruising Facebook on their phones, or complaining about the wait time to anyone who would listen.
They were embracing the moment that had been given to them.
Instead of looking at the emotional reactions of others, they paid attention to themselves.
When we are forced to wait, there are some natural reactions that occur.
Some people feel an adrenaline surge, so their heart beats faster.
Some people get irritated and even confrontational.
Do you begin to survey the crowd to make sure no one cuts in front of you in line?
Try to let these feelings go. Look for the positive moments.
How does a deep breath feel? How do your feet feel in an extended wait?
What tiny movements do you feel your body making?
There are many places where we find ourselves waiting throughout the day.
You might wait for your toast to pop up.
You could be waiting for your microwave to cook your lunch right now.
These are also moments where mindfulness can be explored.
Waiting can be enjoyable when working toward being more mindful every day.
In return, you’ll find that a long line at the grocery store doesn’t have to ruin your day.
#7. Practice Active Listening
If you have cable TV, turn on CNN right now. Or MSNBC. Or Fox News. Or whatever news channel you prefer.
At some point, you’ll find that the news events being reported turn to a discussion of the news that has occurred.
Many news organizations will bring on guests with very different points of view to discuss the topic.
Now count how many times one person tries to interrupt the other person because they disagree with what is being said.
How can a meaningful conversation take place if each person is focused on interrupting the other because they feel that they are right with their assertions and the other person is wrong?
Unfortunately, this is also the process that many people take into their daily lives when it comes to listening.
There is this insatiable “need” to interrupt and say something because it is “important.”
Knowing how to be mindful in everyday life also means adopting the practices of active listening.
Don’t just listen to the words being said or think about what the opinion of another person means to you.
Listen to how the words are being said.
Pay attention to the body language of the individual.
Look at what drives them.
See if there are moments of excitement.
Instead of thinking about making a rebuttal, think about giving this person your full attention.
Are You Ready to Experience the Benefits of Being in the Present?
Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just need to remember to do it. Sharon Salzberg
Being mindful in everyday life is the first step toward choosing happiness.
Instead of focusing on the continuous chatter of the past or the worries of the future, we can stay present in this moment.
We can experience the perfection of right now.
It is not always easy to stay mindful in difficult moments. The rewards for doing so, however, can be many.
Improved concentration, more relaxation, added productivity: these can all become reality when a focus is made to be more mindful from sunrise to sunset.
So often we focus on ideas that we feel are “good” or “bad.”
With mindfulness, the labels can be cast aside.
At our core, no matter how many differences there may be between you and me, together we form humanity.
When this realization can be brought into other aspects of our lives, then life feels fuller every day.
Make the commitment to mindfulness starting today.
Plan to wake up tomorrow with the expectation that you’ll be able to find moments of perfection around you.
Then keep going.
Every step you take will lead you toward experiencing a better life.