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3 Simple Habits for Daily Mindfulness

3 Simple Habits for Daily Mindfulness

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”
Buddha

“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.”
Jon Kabat-Zinn

One of the most common habits that make life miserable is to not be where you are.

What do I mean by that?

That your body is right here, right now. But that your thoughts are elsewhere in time and space.

They are in the past, reliving an old, painful memory. Or replaying an argument – that you still want to win – for the hundredth time.

Or your thoughts are in a possible future. Worried and stressed about what may happen at work or in your relationship. Or trying to plan for every possible scenario and through that hoping to fully control the future.

And the more time you spend in the future or past, the more you – in my experience – tend to also:

  • Be ineffective. Making decisions becomes very hard if you second-guess yourself all the time or become paralyzed by all the possible outcomes. And overthinking zaps so much energy that you lose motivation to take action.
  • Miss life as it happens. If you are not fully here in this moment then it is very easy to miss and to not fully enjoy a victory or simply a beautiful, fun or small moment in life.

Maybe you cannot spend all of your time in the now. Because there are things you can learn from reexamining your past. And there are things you sometimes need to plan for in your future.

But the kind of obsessive or addictive way to spend so much time in a regular week in the past or future can be replaced with something smarter, more helpful and happiness-friendly.

Three habits that have helped me a lot to make that shift into being much more mindful are to:

1. Slow down.

Start your day with doing whatever you do first in your morning slowly.

This will make it easier and more natural to keep a slower pace and to focus fully on what you are doing for the rest of your morning. And starting your day in this way will often prevent you from going into your own most common thought loops that cause worry, anger or sadness.

Plus, doing something in a calm and relaxed manner is often the quickest way to do something well.

And you can of course slow down what you are doing at any time during your day to get your mind back to what your body is doing.

2. Tell yourself: Now I am…

I often tell myself this silently in my mind: Now I am X.

And X could be that I am brushing my teeth. Doing the dishes. Taking a walk and listening to the sounds around me.

Just reminding myself of this helps my mind to stop wandering and it brings my focus back to just that one thing I am doing right now and nothing else.

3. Disrupt your thoughts + quickly reconnect with the here and now.

If you are a regular reader then you know that I like to use a stop-word or phrase to silence the inner critic.

This works well for getting back to the present moment too.

When you catch yourself going somewhere else in the past or future with your thoughts then – in your mind – shout: STOP!

Or: No, no, no, we are not going down that road again!

Then, right away after you have disrupted those thoughts find your way back to the present moment by either focusing only on what is going on around you right now with all your senses – the sights, the sounds, the smells and so on – or by focusing 100% on your breaths going in and out of your body.

Do either of those things for just 1-2 minutes.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • navk

    Very insightful and worth practicing the three habits of mindfulness. I also
    feel like I can control my thoughts more. Thank you Henrik!!!! will apply everyday.

  • Hello Henrik
    I have been reading and sharing your thoughtful insights for many years now .
    I feel like you know my soul and how to enrich my daily life with messages that are relevant to me with perfect timing .
    Your in-depth messages are helping so many people all over the world .
    So glad I found you . Thank you for all you do to inspire us and keep us positive in such a crazy ? world ?.
    Keep spreading the love Henrik your a blessing to us all !

  • I don’t know whether I am suffering from ADHD or it is something else, but what you have said in this post that “your body is here, but you’re not here” I feel it many times. I mean I just get lost in my own dreams and in my thoughts.
    I often forgets what was I doing or what I was going to do?
    What should I do?

  • Sandra Richards

    This is going to help me a lot. Thank you for this article!

  • Joy

    I’ve been using your “Now I am …” strategy since you first suggested it a while ago. It really helps to lower my stress, since it reduces the time I spend ruminating about the past or worrying about the future. Thanks!

  • champika.

    Very important ideas.Thank u very much for the valued article.great work. ???

  • Mary

    Henrik, your articles are always helpful, but none more so than this one. All we have, all we are is contained in the present moment. At times we lose sight of that and we need re-direction. This article makes that re-direction gently achievable in three small, kind steps.

  • sanjana

    Great post Henry! I felt relieved now. Wonderful!

  • I think that the point “Disrupt your thoughts + quickly reconnect with the here and now.” is the most important in the final outcome. I’ve touched this topic in one of my articles: https://timsabat.com/2018/07/12/did-you-know-that-relaxed-mind-thinks-different/

    Because our minds can get us to points where we turn out to be useless, we have to control them. One of the most effective ways is to interrupt bad thoughts (as you said) or to relax it.

    Cheers,
    Tim

  • Jodie Finley

    Thanks again for putting this life in perspective. Here and now. Appreciation abounds!

  • Am so grateful to have you in my daily life. Though its not easy but each time I get your email I become inspired. I really thank you. God must continue giving you strength to help us.

  • ATL PARIKH

    As always great help for someone like me who has difificulty in staying focus on present. Someday I am going to attend your seminar.
    Thanks,
    Atul

  • Diane Eastman

    I love your helpful input. It has helped me so much. I thank you!

  • lance c davis

    Love the blog today very helpful. My wife always tells me to stay present.

  • JAMES N lovering

    I am a single divorced man running a small company in southern vt. All you have written has helped me in so many good ways. Thank you for your wonderful life lessons and advice.