What is mindfulness and why do we want it to make it a habit?
Mindfulness is simply paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and without judgment. When we are mindful, we pause to listen, watch or consider what is naturally existing around us. We intentionally increase our awareness of our experience in the present, we focus on now. We are curious and objective about our experience. We accept our current situation without struggle. We notice thoughts arise, but we realize we don’t have to get hooked by them.
The habit of mindfulness is the first habit on our list because the story running in our heads determines our entire experience of life.
If we aren’t aware of that story, we aren’t aware of just how powerful we are in our own life. Practicing mindfulness shows you the space in between circumstances in the outside world and how you feel and react to those circumstances. That space between is where you have your free will, agency, & power to choose what you make of your life.
It’s that simple.
So finding moments to pause and do just that can be life changing.
Sometimes we just think that what we believe, our thoughts, are just the facts of life. But when we realize that thoughts are constantly coming and going, and we don’t have to be hooked by them if we don’t like how they make us feel or if they aren’t serving us.
To do this habit, find an anchor moment, an existing routine that you can rely on, something you do no matter what, that you can use to remind you to be mindful.
What will you use as your anchor moment?
Take a few deep breaths, be mindful, and ask yourself what you are thinking and feeling. Do this for one minute at least. It’s that simple.
Now celebrate that you did this first habit. Personal celebration, immediately after completing this habit will help solidify this as a habit. This little positive emotion that you attach to the new behavior is what will help you to create a habit of mindfulness.
I know it sounds silly, but it works. Think of professional athletes, when they score a goal and do a victory dance. This is a similar psychological process. It is just hacking the reward circuitry in your brain. Your brain uses dopamine, it loves dopamine because it’s the chemical it uses to remember behaviors it wants to do again. If you use even a small amount of positive emotion, aka dopamine, by celebrating your success, your brain will want to go back and do this behavior again and again.
So be thinking of what you want your anchor moment to be to remind you to be mindful and also how you want to celebrate that you did it!