|Photo by David Mao on Unsplash|
Mindlessness wastes your life with busyness and distraction. Find gratitude, purpose, and joy with this Twelve Step Program to increase attention:
- As soon as you're awake, breathe deeply, stretch, and pray or meditate.
- Eat healthfully, possibly outside or at least near a window. Relish the flavor of your food; watch and listen to the wind, birds, trees, water, even the cars going by. Notice when you have eaten enough, and realize that you feel peaceful and grateful.
- Take time to connect with your roommate, spouse, or kids.
- Work at your most important tasks first, one at a time, giving each your full attention. Realize that if something is worth your time, it's worth doing well. Feel less anxiety and stress because you know you're giving your best efforts to the tasks that matter.
- As you stand in the kitchen making your lunch or boiling the pot for tea, don't be distracted by your phone. Look at the sunlight shining on the floor. Taste the crisp flavors of your salad. Listen to the pitch of the kettle as it gets closer to boiling, and smell the bergamot in your Earl Grey. Feel the warmth as you lift your cup.
- Don't try to squeeze in more tasks than you realistically have time for, and accept that there will be occasional delays and mix-ups. Allow a bit of breathing room in your schedule so you don't need to be pushy or fear being late for an appointment.
- In line at the grocery store or bank, put your phone away and pay attention. Stand straight and loosen your neck, noticing that you're more comfortable when you don't slump. Be aware of the people around you; smile and meet their eyes. Is the person who serves you bored or stressed? Pleasantly acknowledge and thank him.
- As you're driving home, observe the weather and seasonal changes. The radio isn't simply background noise -- if you like a song that's playing you might tap or sing along. If it brings back memories, think about them. Once again, straighten your shoulders and relax your neck, breathing deeply to feel re-energized.
- Spend time with your family, and be a good listener. Share your own successes and struggles, and receive congratulations and encouragement from your loved ones. Realize how much each one means to you.
- Relax by doing something creative, or by getting outside, or by moving your body. Pay attention to what you see, hear, feel, smell, and taste. Look for beauty, no matter how small.
- Prepare for bed by writing in a gratitude journal. Make a list of important tasks for tomorrow, releasing any worry or concern about them for the night. Breathe deeply, stretch, and pray or meditate.
- Sleep well and peacefully so your body, mind, and spirit will be refreshed for tomorrow.
Congratulations! You should be feeling more calm, centered, and focused, with more energy for important relationships and tasks.
For best results, remember:
- You don't have to buy an app or find a guru to learn mindfulness. You don't need to insert one more thing on your to-do list. Mindfulness takes no money and needs no appointment. You simply need to pay attention.
- Don't worry if mindfulness feels strange at first. It's probably very different from the way you usually barrel through your days without thinking or noticing, but every time you practice it will be easier to be aware.
- Accept your emotions, good and bad, high and low. Notice when you start negative self-talk or when you have feelings like envy or impatience. We have to recognize and acknowledge these things if we want to replace them with something more positive.
- Take time to notice and be in nature. It's invigorating.
- Experience each season as it occurs, instead of following the retail calendar. This will not only ground you in the real world, it will reduce the feeling that time is rushing by or that each day is blurring into the next.
- You will efficiently and effectively handle email and social media when you designate specific times to do so. Then you can get back to real life.
- Paying attention to the people who are right in front of you will greatly increase your appreciation for them.
- You will receive far more satisfaction from doing a kindness for one person than from clicking 100 "like" buttons.
- Being thoughtful about which responsibilities you take on, and learning to say no, will enable you to experience less stress while you devote your best energy and ideas to the tasks you care most about.
- Periods of silence allow us to sort out other people's goals, interests, and priorities from our own. When we turn our attention away from ads, news, popular culture, and social media, we can start to make decisions that meet our deepest needs.
Now you're really on your way to a joyful life!
P.S. I'm honored and excited to be the featured guest author on No Sidebar, a website started by Joshua Becker and Brian Gardner. Please visit!