Build Your Mindfulness Muscle

Check out Want to Be Happier? Keep Your Focus, an article from the U.S. News and World Report website.  It discusses the benefits of using a mindfulness practice to improve focus and increase happiness. The article offers five tips for building your mindfulness muscle.

By focusing on the present moment, we prevent our minds from wandering and multi-tasking while improving our attention span and gaining happiness.  Here are a few key insights and thoughts inspired by this article:

1. It’s important to try to find some fun or tolerable engagement during all daily life activities.  I know that it may feel difficult to gain a sense of pleasure from annoying or boring tasks, but at least try to be present during each errand or task.  For example, earlier today while I ran several errands that I consider to be annoying, I set my mind on being patient and completing my tasks efficiently.  While completing my errands, I shifted my attention to gratitude and felt good that my car got me to and from my destinations safely and that I was able to cross some important things off of my to-do list.  I soaked in a sense of accomplishment and tried to tune out other worries and things on my to-do list.  I know it can be a stretch at times, but it is beneficial to reframe boring or negative experiences into those that are positive and worthwhile.

2. Soaking in a movie, TV show, book or youtube video is valuable for improving focus and relaxing.  Allow yourself to enjoy these forms of entertainment.  Personally, I feel even better about watching American Idol last night!

3. Make every minute count.  Moments become hours, hours become days, days become weeks and so on and so on.  Before we know it, minutes add up to a lifetime.  Try to increase joyful and peaceful moments and before you know it, you will live a life that is happier, more satisfying and more peaceful.

4. Get in touch with the present moment (aka NOW).  Be aware of your emotions, perceptions, experiences and sensations.  Tune into your body and mind and use your senses to take in (and hopefully enjoy) the world around you.  When I am stuck in traffic, I make a conscious effort to take in the beauty of the trees, the cherry blossoms, the green grass and the color of the sky.  By doing this, I focus my attention on the present moment, which makes my drive much more pleasant.  Music also helps!

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