I notice when I am not being mindful, and so does everyone else. When I am not mindful I am clumsy. Tripping, spilling something or missing what someone said to you is a very in-your-face reminder of not being present. Since my lack of mindfulness is so obvious and painful, I try to be present consistently. Just the other day my friend even said to me, “I have to tell you something. I really appreciate how present you are when we hang out. You aren’t on your phone at all and it’s really refreshing.”
The importance of being present
Honestly, I did my best to accept the compliment with grace but it felt a bit awkward to me to be thanked for something like that. After all, she is always present with me and this is the type of friendship I have with the majority of my close friends. Yet, it made me pause and highlighted how rare this is today. It is becoming a unique personality trait to be present.
Look around you. It is more common than not to be on our devices regardless of who we are with or what we are doing. This is not surprising but the irony is, as we become more connected through technology, we are risking and losing the depth of our in-person connections.
Putting down our devices
If the constant use of technology is meant to keep us connected to each other, why are we on social media when we are in face-to-face interactions? I believe it is because technology has created an expectation of availability.
When we text, we expect a reply the same hour. When we email, we expect it will be read the same day. If a photo is posted, a like or comment is expected. On and on the expectation of our actions and availability goes, driving our need to constantly reach for our devices.
To keep up, we talk on the phone, surf social media and listen to music all at the same time, regularly, without hesitation. Yet, with the increased activities we attempt to perform simultaneously, it is inevitable that each unique task isn’t getting the best of us. We find ourselves with a friend and also online, keeping up with all the modern day communications that come in at a steady stream.
The importance of mindfulness
Sadly, for the person in front of us, our distracted interaction is a subconscious indication that their presence isn't stimulating enough or isn’t valued as highly as whatever you’re doing on your device.
To prevent this harmful reaction, mindfulness is the answer to honor your in-person interactions and have effective online connections. It also has numerous other benefits listed below. But, how do we be mindful?
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. Mindfulness influences your everyday thoughts and choices. What you eat, how often you move your body, and what your inner voice is saying, all come into focus when we are mindful.
Being mindful used to come naturally. Unfortunately, due to the wave of technology use, mindfulness is now a muscle that has gotten weak and needs some exercising. Rest assured, being mindful is actually an easy exercise though.
Here are 3 ways to build mindfulness into your daily life. These are sure to build meaningful connections and healthier habits with each present moment.
3 SIMPLE MINDFULNESS HABITS
1. PHONE PICK UP
Being mindful of phone usage is getting harder as companies get better at making us addicted to checking updates. Start by asking yourself, “How often do I pick up my phone in a day?” Most devices now monitor this and the information is right at your fingertips. Divide this number by the hours you are awake. The number will most likely shock you.
The first time I did this I discovered, I regularly pick up my phone over 50 times a day. This number is actually low. According to a new research study, Americans check their phones an average of 80 times a day while on vacation, with some checking their screen more than 300 times each day. Yikes!
What is the little habit change that can adjust this? Make your phone harder to reach. This is simple but it is also super effective. Put your phone in the other room, put it in your purse or backpack, challenge yourself to leave it at home for short errands, leave it in the glove box when you go into a store or in the hotel room while on vacation.
The key to this is to keep it out of reach so that you have to think before you reach for it. This ensures you have a true purpose for picking it up and that your phone usage is mindful. I don’t think our phones are bad. I believe we just need to be mindful of how we use them.
The concept of single-tasking is becoming more popular. This is the act of completing one task at a time. We are so used to switching between tasks that starting and finishing one task takes effort at first.
Take this simple example. You prepare your dinner and sit down to eat by yourself. Often, the habit is to turn on the television, scroll through our phone, play a game or call a friend so we don’t feel like we are eating alone. To be mindful, simply sit down and be present with each bite. What you discover might surprise you.
Do you chew your food fully? Are you full before the food on your plate is gone? Do you notice flavors that you hadn’t tasted before? You may discover all of these and more when you begin single-tasking. Select one daily action and perform it being fully present.
This can be washing your face, enjoying your first cup of coffee, walking to work or any other daily task that is a part of your life. Be fully present and observe how the experience changes with your enhanced awareness.
3. ACKNOWLEDGE AN ACT OF KINDNESS
You’re balancing 3 things while talking on the phone. You approach a door and someone opens it for you. What do you do? A common reaction is to simply smile at the person in acknowledgment and walk past quickly. What if instead you paused, looked them in the eye, smiled and said, “Thank you for holding the door, I really appreciate it.”
Truthfully, their prosocial behavior shows that they were being present with you first. They noticed you needed the door held open and paused in their life activities to assist you. This simple act of pausing in your rushing state and being fully present with the person who was doing a kind gesture for you is certain to make a difference.
The good deed person will feel your gratitude more deeply and gain a sense of acknowledgment. This feedback loop leads to and encourages further prosocial behavior. These behaviors and reactions benefit everyone in society and lead to a happier, more connected, and giving culture.
TOP 3 BENEFITS OF MINDFULNESS
As you see, there are many opportunities during daily life to be present. I know that the days I am feeling the best are when I am present and I notice how present others are with me.
Living presently improves your happiness and enhance the lives of those around you. Mindfulness benefits you and society in numerous ways, some obvious and some surprising.
1. Improves well-being
Being mindful makes it easier to savor the pleasures in life as they occur, helps you become fully engaged in activities, and creates a greater capacity to deal with adverse events.
Practicing mindfulness causes fewer regrets, lowers concerns about success and self-esteem and helps form deep connections with others.
2. Improves physical health
Mindfulness affects the physical body in numerous ways. It helps relieve stress, lowers blood pressure, improves sleep, and can even reduce chronic pain and alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties.
3. Improves mental health
A positive treatment for a number of our internal problems is mindfulness. This helps treat depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, couples’ conflicts, anxiety disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
The power of Mindfulness
Has anyone ever made your day when they were fully present with you? The friend who really listened, when you shared how you were doing, made you feel cared for. The stranger, who holds the door for you, notices what is happening with you and offers their help. When you are mindful, you also notice your body and its needs so you can better care for yourself.
These internal and external moments can all positively impact us, lead to greater connections to our community and make an overall happier world. All it takes is a little thoughtfulness to be present within everyday moments.
Have you noticed a difference when you are mindful? Have you noticed when others around you are not being mindful? When you practice mindfulness, what you notice and how you interact with the world around you will change. Social interactions, your health, and confidence, as well as the environment, will all be affected. Our mindfulness will make a better planet one person and one moment at a time.
I look forward to hearing of a moment that stands out to you when you were very present or how it felt when someone was not being present with you. We can all learn from these stories and insights and be better humans as a result.
Benefits of Mindfulness
The Basics of Prosocial Behavior
How Smartphones Are Affecting Our Relationships
Why ‘Thank You’ Is More Than Just Good Manners
Study Finds That Americans Check Their Phones 80 Times A Day On Vacation