What are you doing right now? Who are you with? How do you feel? These are simple questions, but we often pay little attention to the answers. Throughout the course of the day, our thoughts are frequently focused on other things.
Dwelling too much about the past or the future can distract us from being our best selves in the present. By embracing mindfulness, we can boost our happiness and become more focused.
What Is Mindfulness?
Psychology Today describes mindfulness as a state of active and open attention on the present moment.
Supporters of mindfulness often say it can reduce stress, depression, and anxiety; improve focus; and even help people sleep better at night. Some of these claims have been backed by science.
According to the Harvard Gazette, research has shown that mindfulness meditation can actually change the brain.
A study conducted by researchers at Leiden University and published in Frontiers in Psychology found that open-monitoring meditation, in which people focus on themselves and their environment, can improve creative thinking. This is important for people looking for new ideas and solutions to problems.
In another study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers found that mindfulness exercises reduced insomnia, fatigue, and depression.
How Can We Achieve Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a simple idea but learning to truly live in the moment can take some effort on your part.
- Practice regularly. Mindfulness is about changing the way you think. In order to see substantial improvement, you need to spend time developing this approach. Try to devote a little time to mindfulness every day.
- Use breathing exercises. Take slow, deep breaths. Focus on your breathing as you do this. Doing this for a few minutes can help calm and focus you.
- Focus on your surroundings. Pay attention to where you are. Notice what you see, hear, smell, and feel. Pay attention to the small details you might normally ignore.
- Pay attention to your thoughts. What are you thinking about? What emotions are you feeling? Make yourself aware of these thoughts and emotions, without judgement of them.
- Concentrate on your actions. It’s easy to go through most of the day on autopilot. Instead, force yourself to pay attention to the things you are doing. Avoid distractions as you give your current task your full attention.
- Learn to meditate. Mediation is simple and does not require any special tools. However, if you are unsure of how to start, you can take a class, watch a video, or even use a meditation app.