Mindfulness Shines a Light on Life

October 21, 2016 Carol 2 comments

Mindfulness shines a light on life.

Whatever does that mean? See if you can find a clue in this definition of mindfulness:

Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmental. — Jon Kabat-Zinn

 

Mindfulness is our window onto the world. It enables us to take notice of the things around us. Things we might otherwise miss. The feel of a cooling breeze.The scents of flowers. The songs of birds. The laughter of children.  A smiling face. 

mindfulness shines a light on life
Morgan is my mindful dog.

Here’s a way to think about it. At any given moment, you can use mindfulness to shine a light on whatever gifts life has to offer. Once you become aware of these gifts, you can then respond in positive ways, ways that enrich your life.

 

For example, let’s say that the person standing in line with you offers a friendly smile. Because you are being mindful (and not fidgeting with your cell phone), you have the opportunity to smile back. Perhaps you’ll even add a kind word. This simple exchange is what Barbara Fredrickson calls a micro-moment of connection.

Letting our guard down and opening up to the micro-moments of connection around us each day will ultimately make us happier and more content.

 

That’s how mindfulness shines a light on life.

 

Mindfulness is the gateway to well-being. 

Here are some of the facts, backed by science:

  • The simple habit of paying attention may separate happy and unhappy people. Harvard psychologists Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert have uncovered compelling evidence that a wandering mind is an unhappy mind. We’re happiest when thought and action are aligned, even if they’re aligned to iron a shirt. See my mindbodygreen article for more.
  • Mindfulness drives two of the most powerful happiness generators: kindness and gratitude. Take a look at The Happiness Map below. The top two paths pertain to kindness, to oneself and to others. The bottom path pertains to gratitude. See The Science of Happiness for the mechanics of how this works. 
  • Mindfulness can improve health. In February of this year, a New York Times article reported on this topic. “A study published in Biological Psychiatry brings scientific thoroughness to mindfulness meditation and for the first time shows that, unlike a placebo, it can change the brains of ordinary people and potentially improve their health.”

Follow these 3 steps to a more mindful life.

Step 1: Gain better control of your attention.

 

Attention is like a combination spotlight and vacuum cleaner: It illuminates what it rests upon and then sucks it into your brain — and your self. — Pay Attention – Dr. Rick Hanson

If you need help with this, see Rick Hanson’s article. It includes instructions on how “to cultivate some neural factors of attention – in effect, getting your brain on your side to help you get a better grip on this spotlight/vacuum cleaner.”

 

Step 2: Carpe diem. That’s the Latin for seize the opportunity, chance, moment, etc..

As you become better at paying attention, you will start to notice more opportunities for happiness. Seize them! 

 

Take the time to connect with the person offering you a smile. Take a deeper breath of that scent in the air. Give the dog walking nearby a little pat. Stay in bed an extra few minutes to listen to the birds singing. Pause to enjoy the night sky before you walk into the house.

 

You will be amazed at how much happier you will feel when you do these little things.

 

Step 3. Weave some meditative practices into your daily life.

There are so many meditative practices to choose from. They vary in length and in purpose. 

 

This article on Mindful is a great place to start: How to Choose a Type of Mindfulness Meditation. My own personal favorite is loving-kindness meditation.

 

Mindfulness shines a light on life.

May it light your way to a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life.

2 Comments on “Mindfulness Shines a Light on Life

    1. Hello J, Thanks for reading and commenting. I love your suggestion because it combines several things that improve well-being. The fresh air and exercise of course. But on the positive psychology side, there is both meditation and connection. Wishing you well, Carol

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *