3 Steps To Mindful
Originally posted as “3 Steps to Mindfulness- Improving Joy, Performance and Results” at The Huffington Post
In the poster are five wonderful quotes from the “Mother of mindfulness,” Ellen Langer. I had the enormous pleasure of meeting Ellen at the Happiness and Its Causes conference several years ago and was able to spend a little time with her. She is amazing! Funny, incredibly smart, entertaining and gifted with a way of helping anyone become very present! So many of her concepts resonated with me.
This post is based on her version of mindfulness which she has been researching for over 30 years. She was the inspiration for the TV series “The Young Ones,” where she took a pile of really old people (back then), placed them in house decorated as if it was 20 years earlier, had TV/radio programs from that era — she reproduced a time 20 years earlier and had them THINK and speak AS IF they were 20 years younger and guess what?
All their physiological parameters changed as if they were actually younger! And this was only after ONE WEEK of living like that!
Which reinforces the impact of one of my favorite themes — how you feel about yourself REALLY matters — what you think and say to yourself really matters.
So why do I focus on helping people be mindful?
Because almost every experiment conducted shows that mindfulness improves everything! This is all explained in detail and the research outlined in her book “Counterclockwise.”
Here is some of her work outlining the potential for mindfulness to affect — well — pretty much everything! LOL!
And I also focus on it because being mindful is “waking up” — about becoming more conscious — and living more consciously — another two of my core themes.
Most of us are allowing habits and patterns of thinking from our past to subconsciously program our present. Think driving a car. How mindful were you in your first few lessons? These days, how often do you arrive home and you don’t even know how you got there — yet you were driving the car!
This is a common theme with anything we learn — we are mindful in the beginning and then we become mindless as the pattern is stored away in our subconscious! Our mind is in one space while our body is in another. This applies at work and home.
So… how to be more mindful?
Many people think that meditation is the answer to mindfulness but I agree with Ellen — it’s a slower road to mindfulness than what she teaches; which is…
1. Notice things!
From now on, be very conscious of things that are different. Actively observe things about a person while you are listening. Their voice tones, facial expressions, surroundings, their feelings wrapped in the words. If you are in nature, notice the small things and sounds we often gloss over. Keep noticing — there is always so much to notice.
Once you have noticed all you can outside — notice what is going on inside you! What are you saying to yourself when you are on your own (but not while you are with another person or you can’t be noticing stuff about them!) Is it helpful? Positive? Does it make you feel good about yourself? If not — who can change it? Do you WANT to change it? What are you willing to do to change it?
2. Question rather than assume or judge!
Most of us assume we know what we are thinking! And what others are thinking. And more often than not, we have no idea about either!
There are so many “loops” of language and judgement caught up in our unconscious minds — often comments from other people somewhere in our past — that keep on running in the background, constantly influencing how we feel about and judge ourselves — and others. Constantly driving our behaviors — all these limiting beliefs ruling our lives!
We keep doing the same old things with the same old results — all because we are mindless! Unconscious of our patterns of thinking, programs and mindsets. So ask others and question our own thoughts.
Things constantly change and we need to be constant re-learners! Instead of accepting what you have learned in the past as still the best or only way — question it! Ask if there is a better way — based on new information you may have learned. Think about your interactions with others.
You have a “difficult” person at work — they are most often not “difficult” but different from you! Their mindset or thinking makes their behavior perfectly reasonable in their eyes — they probably think you are the difficult one! Ellen talks about how “labelling” someone or a situation limits us. We place a label on it — i.e., judge it or them — which instantly makes you mindless — because we don’t see reality or what is truly in front of us — we see what we expect to see. (Another favorite theme of mine!)
No matter what happens to you — choose to frame it in a positive way. This of course is possible when you are mindful or conscious of what is going on — both in others, in the environment and in yourself! Think of something your partner does that annoys you. Like “controlling” — a very common complaint because we never like anyone else telling us what to do or compromising. Instead of choosing to see this behavior as “controlling” (a label/judgement) would you choose to see it as a way they are trying to make themselves feel safe?
If you see it in that way, if you are mindful of their mood, feelings or language, you have more information to remind yourself that they are trying to feel safe and perhaps do something that would make them feel safer in that moment. Which would then change everything in the relationship!
You may think your partner is “fussy” — in other words they pay attention to all the details, all the time! They are probably just operating completely unconsciously being controlled by a program from one of their parents. To change they too have to become mindful of the unconscious thinking patterns that are running their lives! Almost everything “negative” that happens can be reframed! NAWOL helps you become present, to reframe and become more mindful!
Notice any discomfort inside you
Accept it — and
Be Willing to allow it to be there
Open your heart (stop judging, seek wisdom) and observe
Let it go
You will be surprised at how it helps!
Observe your “mind state” all day today — with the goal of becoming aware every time you are mindless!
Every time you are not present.
Every time you are trapped in a pattern of thinking from the past that creates fear.
Then become present… and NAWOL to become mindful again.
Let me know how you go!!
And THANK YOU Ellen for all your hard work and research!
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