Self-improvement content is filled to the brim with the word ‘Mindfulness’. Mindful eating, mindful spending, mindful breathing, mindful consumption, and so on.
But what actually is mindfulness?
A lot of people misinterpret mindfulness to be some voodoo thing for which you need to meditate for 4 hours every day. The truth is that it’s far simpler.
Mindfulness is the ability to recognize when you’re falling in life, and the ability to catch yourself thereafter.
What is “Falling in Life”?
In our overstimulated and fast-paced lives today, it’s easy to lose track of things when we’re constantly bombarded with notifications, to-dos, and deadlines.
Here are a few things which we tend to lose track of today —
- Our spending: eating out and ordering things from Amazon for the hell of it can become a dangerous habit for your finances very quickly
- Intoxicants: such as alcohol, weed, cigarettes, and so on. 1 drink can become 5 easily on a fun night out
- Our weight: nobody gains 15 pounds overnight. Yet, the number of people gaining weight which they deem to be undesired, especially during the pandemic, is at an all-time high
- Our time: binge-watching shows, movies, sports, and so on. A staggering 62% of the American population admit that they regularly binge-watch.
The funny part is that we don’t do any of these things unknowingly. We’re very much aware of what we’re doing. We’re awake, alive, and conscious (well, at least subconscious).
How then do we still lose track of just how much we’re spending, eating, or drinking?
This right here, overindulging in something without fully realizing it is what I mean by “falling” in life.
Most times, somewhere at the back of our mind, we recognize that we’re falling. Yet, we somehow still ignore that and only attempt to fix things after we’ve fallen.
We attempt to get back up after already having fallen. We’re rarely able to stop ourselves while falling.
We try to lose the 15 pounds after having gained them. We aim to reduce our spending after making a few needless purchases. We delete Instagram from our phone after having spent 6 hours on it the previous day.
How Mindfulness Stops Us From Falling
Another simple explanation of mindfulness I can give you is that —
It is simply the ability to be more conscious.
This is especially important in today’s world. Never before have there been more distractions for humans than today.
We’ve all heard the saying of “prevention is better than cure”.
That isn’t limited to only diseases and invisible viruses. It’s also applicable to our daily life.
To our spending, eating, drinking, time, among other things.
Mindfulness helps us to avoid overindulging in something altogether instead of trying to fix the problem after we’ve messed up.
Controlling ourselves while doing something is undoubtedly hard. But is it harder than waking up with a hangover and having to detox? Is it harder than having to cut down on groceries because you bought the latest iMac? Is it harder than having to repeat a paper because you failed in it courtesy of a late-night Netflix binge?
I don’t think so.
Okay, but how to actually develop mindfulness? Here’s how.
Things Which Help Develop Mindfulness
All the things that I’m about to mention will either directly or indirectly teach you about —
- Yourself and why you are the way you are
- Your triggers and why they come about
- Your mind, how it works, and why it works like that
- How to be more conscious
- And how to not “fall” in life
When it comes to not overdoing things, self control is not the answer. Humans suck at that. Mindfulness and being conscious is what actually works.
Do these things to increase your mindfulness —
- Therapy — talking to a professional has been proven to develop one’s mindfulness and conscious mind. You don’t have to be “going through anything” to do therapy. It’s not just for people with mental health problems. It’s for anyone who wants to improve their understanding of themselves and their life. A.K.A — mindfulness.
- Journaling — probably the most underrated technique to develop mindfulness. Just doing a brain dump of whatever’s on your mind that particular day can free up your mind to be more conscious about other things. The more frequently you journal, the lighter your mind can feel, and the lighter your mind feels, the more mindful it can be about your actions.
- Meditation — no it doesn’t have to be for hours together. But just focusing on your breathing for even a few minutes a day can give you amazing clarity of thought and calmness. What this does is that it increases the likelihood of your mind being more conscious of your choices whilst making them.
- Introspection — there’s great power in sitting in a room quietly for a few minutes and letting your thoughts flow without doing anything else. I personally do this in the mornings. I sit in a comfortable position on my bed and just….do nothing. I find this weirdly fun and relaxing. Just letting my thoughts flow unencumbered without the external stimuli of screens or me doing any other action is so incredibly freeing for the mind. Don’t knock it till you try it!
- Doing something that relaxes and energizes you — now this seems a little counterintuitive, but there are indeed things that leave you feeling more energetic after doing them. A good conversation with someone you love is one such thing. Exercise is another. Whenever I play Sports, lift weights, or even go on a short walk, I find myself to be more energetic and clear-headed after I’m done.
- Tracking — I saved the best for the last. Simply tracking what you eat through apps like MyFitnessPal and HealthifyMe can make you keep your caloric intake in check and prevent overeating. Apps meant for tracking one’s spending can have the same effect. Even planning your days and weeks in the Calendar app can make you less prone to spending hours binge-watching shows on Netflix or videos on TikTok. The act of tracking what you’re doing can make you more aware of how much of it you’re doing, thus making you more mindful and conscious about your actions.
It’s become too easy today to “fall in life” and not realize it until it’s too late and you’ve got to make the great climb up.
Falling into overindulgence and bad habits is much easier than getting into good patterns and positive habits.
Mindfulness helps you to stop yourself from falling in the first place by catching yourself when you feel yourself slipping.
Life as a whole would be much better, healthier, and more productive if we’re able to use mindfulness to stop falling, instead of trying to get back up after we’ve already fallen.
Of course, sometimes, we may still fall. We’re not perfect. We can’t always succeed at being mindful. But we can try. As long as we’re able to succeed at it most of the time, we’re good.
Previously Published on medium
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