How often do you think about something not directly related to the present moment?
What’s for dinner.
That thing you keep meaning to schedule.
Where to go for your next break.
How many emails you still need to respond to once you’re out of this never-ending meeting…
Well, you’re in good company! Harvard Psychologists Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert found that most people spend 46.9% of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re actually doing.
From my research, we hijack our focus in three key ways:
And as common as this practice is, it’s not always helpful. Research shows that the habit of mind-wandering typically makes us unhappy, rather than feeling more peaceful!
“Mind-wandering is an excellent predictor of people’s happiness,” Killingsworth says. “In fact, how often our minds leave the present and where they tend to go is a better predictor of our happiness than the activities in which we are engaged.”
So why do we do it?
We want to escape or avoid.
To get more done.
Sometimes we need to take a mental break.
To…[fill in your reason]
Why Mindfulness Matters
Mindfulness is one buzzword that has become increasingly popular over the last decade. Jon Kabat-Zinn, a well-respected author and founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic, shares that mindfulness requires us to pay attention on purpose and stay in the present moment.
People who practice mindfulness with intent create a moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgment, according to the Greater Good Science Center based out of UC Berkeley.
The American Psychological Association has identified many mental, emotional, and physical benefits of mindfulness, including:
- Less stress and decreased anxiety.
- Boosts to working memory.
- Sharper mental focus.
- Reduced emotional reactivity.
- More cognitive flexibility.
- Higher relationship satisfaction.
Set a timer for 60 seconds and choose one question to ponder:
When was the last time you felt truly present?
What gets in the way of being in the moment?
When do you allow yourself to be absorbed in what you’re doing or feeling?
What is one thing you can STOP doing and then START doing to be more focused?
Becoming a Mindful Leader
With all of these positive benefits, becoming more mindful appears to be one of the missing dimensions of modern leadership practices. Yet it’s not always easy.The Mindful Leader understands the importance of being still and accomplishing a lot. Click To Tweet
She makes time to rest, reflect, and act. The desires to simply push through and get more done is replaced by an increased awareness of what is needed (and what is not). People feel comfort and support when they’re in the company of a Mindful Leader. They feel heard, respected, and allowed to express themselves and grow. Teams flourish. Productivity increases. Motivation replaces. Engagement increases.
Here are some success strategies from Meditation Trainer, Michelle Alexander, to help you become a more Mindful Leader:
- Be Grateful: Calendar 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening to hold a feeling of simple gratitude. Visualize the people, experiences, and gifts you’re most thankful for, and watch your day-to-day satisfaction skyrocket!
- Choose Compassion: We are perfect beings having an imperfect physical experience. When your default perspective is one of understanding and kindness, it’s much easier to let the little things roll off your back and reduce that killer stress factor. When you practice gentleness with others and with yourself it becomes easier to get back on track if you veer off course.
- Get Guided: Learning new meditation techniques and mindful perspectives can be tough on your own! In this app, you listen to a soothing voice lead you step-by-step through a full practice can help tame your “monkey mind.” There is a myriad of podcasts, apps, and local interest groups you can tap into to ensure your new journey to awareness is not a solo one.
My Invitation for the Next 30 Days…
One of the biggest findings from mindfulness research is how regular meditation can shape your brain and enhance your life (read more here).
You can join me as I commit to a daily meditation practice through the month of September. That’s 30 days of carving out moments of silence and stillness to reconnect with myself and the things that matter most.
New to meditation and need some support?
Join Michelle and friends at The Urban Hive on Wednesdays at 11:30 am for a guided meditation session. Or download one of these awesome meditation apps and give it a try! Let me know what you think and what differences you notice.
- What is Mindfulness?
- Defining Mindfulness with Jon Kabat-Zinn
- What are the benefits of mindfulness
- Minding the Details of Mind-Wandering
- Wandering mind not a happy mind
- 23 Types of Meditation
Be the Revolution,