How many times have you woken up, thrown on some clothes and rushed through the door? How soon after that have you become impatient and overreacted or been frustrated by something minuscule? I’m sure you’re nodding to yourself right now. You had no intention of starting your day this way, but it just keeps happening.
When life gets like this, you can change things up by incorporating a few mindful concepts to your life! Here’s how:
Have intention in what you do, feel, and say. Our brain has two states: the unconscious, which has fast-moving signals, and the conscious, where the signals move slower. When we do not think things through and rush based on emotion, our brain leans toward the fast-paced signals, which we do not completely reflect on. When we rush, our brain knows it has to respond, so when you are not fully focused you let your unconscious react instead of the conscious, which often leads to negative or unwanted feelings. Have words you didn't intend to speak ever slipped out of your mouth? Or have you ever misread someone's intent, only to realize later you've completely missed the ball? That’s the phenomenon we’re talking about.
Having goals and moving with intent keeps your conscious brain focused and functioning, and prevents your unconscious brain from deciding your actions. Conscious thinking allows you to find self-identity and purpose, things that are beyond basic physiological needs like food and safety.
Why, as humans, are we especially rushed during meals? Society makes it seem as if eating is almost unproductive. Eating is one of the most pleasurable human activities. So why do we constantly catch ourselves gobbling up a plate of food before we even knew it existed? We need to eat more mindfully.
More information on the benefits of slow eating can be found here.
Life is so busy that most of it is done on autopilot. This is because we consistently go through the same routines. Our mind establishes a set of actions and reactions. It’s easy for our body to keep repeating the same steps over and over. Taking a break allows for that mundane process to be broken. This is how you incorporate change into your life. When you are trying to fix something, you don’t repeat the same steps over and over – you try new ideas. Being mindful is the opposite of being on autopilot. The more time you spend being mindful, the more likely it is that you’ll create positive change in your life.
Taking breaks allows you to rethink what you are about to do and remember what you’ve accomplished. This is one way to go from the fast brain to the slow brain and continue your day with intention. Shifting the balance from what you subconsciously do to what you intend to do gives you the power of self-control; that’s why it is important to take a break and reground yourself. Creating change starts from taking a break from the usual.
There is a reason why patience is a virtue. Not everyone has it, and those who claim they do can always use a little extra. (Everyone enjoys rush hour, or that random traffic jam, right?) While most people get built up with rage and frustration that serves no purpose, you can use this time more wisely. Remember about taking a break and coming off autopilot? Or the concept of the fast brain and slow brain? Use this time mindfully. There’s nothing you can do about traffic, but you can just as easily meditate as scowl the yelling gentleman next to you. Take this time to either relax with some deep breaths or plan what you will be doing in the office today.
We cannot stress the importance of physical health. You need a healthy mind and body to feel whole and happy. Running is great for your body. Sign up for the gym, buy some weights, or watching videos about bodyweight workouts are all great ways to start. We may not be able to control all our physical characteristics, but exercise is a great way to improve some of them. You don't have to just focus on burning calories. You can focus on conditioning your body, mastering finesse, or just simply enjoying the moment. Not only are you improving your health; you’re also learning more about your physicality. Working out also provides some time for yourself, away from the stresses of society.
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Call it intuition, instinct, or a gut feeling: if we followed it, we just might be a lot happier. Intuition is a skill we are all born with, but one we submerge in the business of modern living.