For many of us, taking a few vitamins have become a part of our daily routine. It's become as regular as clockwork. You may take a specific combination that has been customized to fit your physical needs and belief systems. Do we know the impact they might be having on our body? You may have some testing done or you may just plain “feel” better!
So what if there was another way? Research reveals that by paying attention to what’s going on around us, instead of operating on auto-pilot, we can reduce stress, unlock creativity, boost performance, and “feel better”. This us to what we call Mindfulness.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the process of actively noticing new things. When you do that, it puts you in the present and makes you more sensitive to context and perspective. It’s the essence of engagement and is energy-begetting, not energy-consuming. The mistake most people make is to think that there is only one way to become mindful.
When people say, “This is the way to do it,” that’s simply not true. There are always many ways, and the way you choose should depend on the current context. You can’t solve today’s problems with yesterday’s solutions. So when someone says, “Learn this so it’s second nature,” a red flag should raise up in your head, because that means mindlessness. I can’t think of anytime in our lives where this approach is enough.
What are some of the specific benefits of being more mindful?
Better performance, for one. There’s this view that if you let everyone do their own thing, chaos will reign. When people are doing their own thing in a rebellious way, yes, it might. But if everyone is working in the same context and is fully present, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get a superior coordinated performance.
Researcher Ellen Langer says that she “also tells people about work/life integration, not balance. ‘Balance’ suggests that the two are opposite and have nothing in common. But that’s not true.”
There are many other ADVANTAGES to mindfulness.
It’s easier to pay attention.
You remember more of what you’ve done.
You’re more creative.
You’re able to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves.
You avert the danger not yet arisen.
You like people more, and people like you better, because you’re less evaluative.
You’re more charismatic.
The idea of procrastination and regret can go away, because if you know why you’re doing something, you don’t take yourself to task for not doing something else.
If you’re fully present when you decide to prioritize this task or work at this firm or create this product or pursue this strategy, why would you regret it?
The perfection of mindfulness is that it can be present in each moment of every day. This is your choice. No matter what you’re doing—eating a sandwich, doing an interview, working on some gizmo, writing a report—you’re doing it one of two ways - mindfully or mindlessly. When it’s the former, it leaves an imprint on what you do.
At the heart of the most successful in any field—Fortune 500 CEOs, the most impressive artists and musicians, the top athletes, the best teachers and mechanics—you’ll find mindful people, because this is one of the most important elements of their success.
Why is mindfulness so important to us today?
There is no question that we hear about mindfulness often. Being mindful has become more important for navigating the chaos—but the chaos makes it a lot harder to be mindful.
Does technology change our ability to be mindful?
You can bring mindfulness to anything. Multitasking has found that if you’re open and keep the boundaries loose, it can be an advantage. The information from one thing can help you with another. Like anything or any situation, it requires our attention.
How do you balance mindfulness—constantly looking for the new—with the ability to buckle down and get things done?
Vigilance, or very focused attention, is probably mindless. The assembly line worker who only does his task has no perspective of the overall picture, just to accomplish his bit and move on to the next. What you want is a soft openness—to be attentive to the things you’re doing but not single-mindedly, because then you’re missing other opportunities.
So what if mindfulness was a new vitamin that could help you focus, be more creative, improve your memory, keep you safe just to name a few. Would it be worth it to you?