3 Ways to Achieve Mindfulness

Woman in orange shirt achieving mindfulness
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A lot of us have heard the term ‘mindfulness’ when conversations about positivity and positive thinking comes up.  But do you know what it really means to achieve mindfulness?  And do you know how mindfulness is related to positive thinking?  This post will be about the benefits of achieving mindfulness and how it relates to positive thinking.  My previous post talked about barriers to positivity.  Read it here so you can be aware of the things that can prevent positive thinking and mindfulness.

Mindfulness is being totally aware of how you are feeling in this current moment.  It is being aware.  Being conscious of your emotions, how you are physically feeling, and just being aware of your mind is.  Mindfulness is something used in the context of being happy, joyful, and positive but you can achieve mindfulness and come to the conclusion that the thoughts you have are mainly negative thoughts.  Or you can come to the conclusion that you are emotionally off.  Mindfulness if awareness – an honest awareness – of how you are feeling in a specific moment.

But, of course, what we strive for is positive mindfulness.  So let’s look at a few ways to achieve positive mindfulness.

man sitting near waterfalls achieving mindfulness

Slowing Down to Achieve Mindfulness

In order to achieve mindfulness you must slow down.  We run through life so fast that we do not often slow down to really take inventory of what we feel.  Are you taking deep regular breaths or are you taking quick shallow breaths?  Are your thought coming slow and steady or are they racing? Slowing down and becoming aware of your thought patterns can help you see what areas you need to focus on.  You may realize that you have a tendency to take things more personally than you should.  Or you may realize that you need to become more assertive.  You may even come to realize that your energy is low and that you may need to enhance your diet.   Slowing down to really analyze all aspects of your being is crucial to being able to maximize your mindfulness. 

Jump to Positive Conclusions

It is our natural inclination to sometimes jump to negative conclusions but we sometimes have to force ourselves to jump to positive conclusions and expect them to happen.  I am notorious for always thinking something will end badly and I defend this way of thinking but saying that I am just planning for the worst case scenario.  While that may be true, if I am not careful, I may also be setting an expectation that something will go wrong.  Imagine what would happen if I put as much energy planning for a positive outcome as I do planning for a negative outcome.  Being intentional about having the expectation that things will go as planned and have a positive outcome go a long way.  Training ourselves to jump to positive conclusions will eventually lead us to achieving mindfulness which leads us to having a more positive outlook on life in general.

Feed Yourself Positivity

We have all heard the phrase, “you are what you eat.”  The assumption being that if you healthily then you will overall be considered healthy.    But if you do not eat a healthy diet you will likely feel run down and sluggish due to you not obtaining the nutrients needed to keep your strength up.  The same is true with positivity.  Be conscious of the company you keep – make sure that you are surrounding yourself with people who speak positively and negatively.  You must be careful of what you allow yourself to read and hear.  Be intentional with what books you read, what music you listen to, and the conversations you have with people. It is a lot easier to be positive when positivity is continually being fed into your spirit.

man standing on mountain top
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These are just a few of the things that you can do to try and achieve mindfulness.  It takes discipline but it is worth the benefits that can come from it.  Here are just a few of the benefits that has been shown that can come from achieving a level of mindfulness.

  • Better relationships
  • Become happier
  • Less stressed
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Better sleep
  • Becoming more creative

What else has helped you achieve a state of mindfulness?

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3 Ways to Sustain the Changes that You Have Made

So maybe you have overcome or are working on overcoming a flawed mindset and may have even overcome some barriers to change.  Now comes the hard part.  Maintaining the change that you have worked so hard to make.  This in of itself can be a monumental task.  Here are a few things that you can do to maintain your change.

  1. Reset if necessary.  It is almost inevitable that you will slip back into old habits.  Do not become discouraged.  You are more than capable of making whatever changes that you desire to make.  Remember this as you reset and continue those changed behaviors that you have already began to implement in order to reach your ultimate goal.  Try not to dwell on your setback.  Just move forward and try again.
  2. Anticipate challenging areas.  The best way to achieve success is to know where your challenges lie.  If you know that you always eat unhealthy foods for lunch when you are at work, pack you a healthier lunch so that you do not even have to be tempted to buy something unhealthy.  Or if your goal is to journal or meditate or anything else that requires time that you feel you currently don’t have, try to wake up earlier and do whatever your goal is before you begin your day.   The goal is to see what could possibly present a challenge and plan around it.
  3. Maintain positive attitude.  Let’s face it. Change is not easy – especially when whatever you are trying to change is something that has become a habit.  Stay positive.  Remember why you decided to make this change and keep that in mind as you maintain your changed behavior.  Try your best to be kind to yourself and be mindful of your self-talk.  You can make and maintain your desired change!

What would you add to this list? Comment below with what you has helped you sustain any changes you have made.

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4 Barriers to Lifestyle Changes and How to Overcome Them

In my previous post I discussed mindsets, now let us discuss some of the things people would like to change. Most of us have something that we want to change as it relates to our lifestyle. Some people want to eat better, some want to be able to sleep better some want to become less anxious or stressed, and others want to feel more satisfied. All these things go back to a change in lifestyle because all these things are connected.  Exercise and a better diet can lead to having a better mood. A better diet and more sleep can lead to less stress. Improving all these things can lead to improved mental health.

Leading a healthy lifestyle has so many benefits. There is absolutely nothing negative that can come from a healthy lifestyle. The benefits of a healthy lifestyle include a reduced risk of cancers and diabetes, improved memory, improved mood, improved cardiovascular health, among many other things.

Changing your lifestyle sounds easy but it can be particularly challenging. Let us briefly discuss some things that can be barriers to lifestyle changes.

  1. Not enough time. This is the first thing that is normally said when someone must incorporate something new in their lives. Between the responsibilities surrounding work, home, children, and so much more, finding time to implement anything new can be a challenge.
  2. Old habits die hard. If you have been doing something for many, many years and decide that you now want to change, it may not be as easy as you thought. What often happens is that change is easy in the beginning but once things get challenging, we often resort back to our old habits.
  3. Procrastination. The discomfort of the change in our routines and habits make us continue to procrastinate. Procrastination will have you talking about something forever but never moving forward.
  4. No motivation. Any kind of change is extremely difficult if you are not motivated. Lack of motivation to change your lifestyle will either have you not changing or not having sustained change even if you happen to change for a moment.

I do not want to spend a lot of time on barriers, but I think they barriers should be identified so that they can be recognized for what they are. You will be able more likely to make a sustained change if you can identify the things that will hold you back and make plans to combat those things. Now, let us talk about ways you can overcome those barriers.

Incorporate change into daily routine

Since the number one barrier is lack of time, try ways to make changes in your daily routine. It is hard to incorporate a major change like cooking healthy meals or starting an exercise regimen overnight. If the change you want to implement is your diet, start small. Purchase healthy foods at the grocery store or make healthy choices if you eat out. Or if you want to exercise more, instead of purchasing an expensive gym membership that you may then feel you have no time to use, try to incorporate more walking into your day. Park further away from the entrance to where you want to go or walk around while waiting for your child to finish their practice instead of sitting in your car. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, incorporate small changes into your daily routine.

Set small goals

 It is sometimes best to set small, attainable goals on your journey to change as opposed to making sweeping changes overnight that may not last.  This can be helpful when making a change such as eating healthier.  Instead of tossing out food from your old diet and buying all new food, you may want to consider slowly buying new food and incorporating your new, healthier food into your diet slowly.  Over time you can let your unhealthy food choices go and eat more of your healthy food choices until your entire diet is made up of your healthy food choice.  You may decide to eat healthy twice a week, the four times a week, before changing over to health food completely. 

Accountability partner

An accountability partner is someone who can ensure that you maintain the goals and commitments that are made when you are trying to change something.  Before you get an accountability partner, you need to ensure that this is someone who will be completely honest with you. You also need to ensure that you are ready to receive whatever feedback that the may give you.  The role of an accountability partner is to cheer you on when you are doing well but to also let you know if you start to slack off your commitments and goals.  Accountability partners can be great if you are looking to change and are willing to accept honest feedback.

Reward yourself

Rewarding yourself is a great way to stay motivated as you work to make a change in your lifestyle.  The caveat to this is to ensure that your reward is not detrimental to the change you are trying to make.  No matter what your goal is, it is okay to have a cheat day if that cheat day is not going to pull you back into your bad habits.  A good reward could be something such as binge-watching your favorite TV show, treating yourself to a night out or staycation, or allowing yourself a weekend morning where you can just sleep in. The point is to reward yourself for a job well done as you continue to make the changes that you want to make.

Be kind to yourself

Do not be hard on yourself if you have a setback.  Setbacks will inevitable happen especially if you are breaking a habit that you have had for an awfully long time.  If you have a setback, just get back on track and pick up where you fell off.  It is okay and no one is perfect.  Establishing a different lifestyle, even if it is a healthier lifestyle, can be hard to do so cut yourself a break.

So many things can be addressed when you say that you are going to change your lifestyle.  Lifestyle encompasses everything to your diet, your habits, your preferences, and even how active you are.  Changes to some of these will come easy while changes to the others will be a little more difficult.

Have you ever made a lifestyle change? Were you able to maintain it? Share what worked and what did not work for you.

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