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The secret to the habits of mindful living

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We get so busy that it’s sometimes hard to remember to stop for a breath, or to listen with compassion to a colleague in need. We rush through the day semi-mindless instead. If we can instill the habit of checking in throughout the day to what is present, it makes a huge difference in how the day goes.

What’s the trick?

In his book “Tiny Habits” Dr. B. J. Fogg points out that emotions create habits. He says that there is a direct connection between how you feel about something and the likelihood you’ll repeat the behavior in the future. It’s not repetition, or frequency. It’s about how it makes us feel.

This totally makes sense. And it explains why I’ll never break the habit of eating rich, dark chocolate!

Looking to Dr. Rick Hanson’s “taking in the good” practice you might think about which emotions are connected to mindful habits you want to strengthen.

When I take a moment to stop, take a breath, and look for the beauty in the world it makes me smile and warms my heart. So I remember to stop and smell the roses more often, bask in the warmth of the sun or listen to music.

It has become a habit to notice more small moments that offer pleasure and to take a second or two to let the feeling soak in before moving on with my day.

One of the most important mindfulness habits I’ve learned
To simply stop for a breath, see or recall something that brings a glow of warmth to my heart or a smile to my face and hold it for a moment. It can make difficult tasks more palatable and conversations more genial.

It works with other habits too

When you are about to have a challenging conversation with someone, create a habit of giving yourself a moment to bring compassion forward in your heart and mind before you start.

When you catch yourself wrapped up in doubt or negativity? Stop to ask yourself “how does what I’m thinking serve me? Is it really true?”

Before a phone call or a meeting, make a habit of stopping for 1 breath to get centered and present.

When you are see that something has triggered you? Recognize the trigger for what it is and say to yourself, “Oh, there’s that trigger”. This disarms the power of it and allows you to look at it and consider how to handle it next time.

For me at least, more than long meditation sits, it’s these small habits that make up my most consistent mindfulness practice.

How about you? What mindfulness habits do you want to encourage?