“Just live in the moment.”
How many times have you heard this?
For a long time, I brushed off suggestions of being present, seeing it as too vague and something I didn’t need to do.
My attitude changed when I learned that many people I admire swear by meditation—my husband being one of them. These days, every business guru seems to meditate for 20 minutes daily.
So I tried it. Simple, right? Sit and meditate for 20 minutes. I was shocked. It was impossible. Each time I tried to quiet my mind, thoughts would pop into my head at rapid-fire speed—grocery lists, to-do lists, things I’d rather be doing. I’m not alone either. A landmark study from Harvard University found that people spend 46.9 percent of their days with their minds wandering. Think about that: we spend almost half of our days totally distracted by thoughts unrelated to what we’re doing. And what’s more, they found our wandering minds don’t make us happy.
A quiet mind sounds good, doesn’t it? But how do you quiet your mind when you really hate meditation?
Not too long after, I read that meditation trains your mind to be quiet. Once you master that skill, you can return to a quiet mind whenever you need it.
A quiet mind sounds good, doesn’t it? But how do you quiet your mind when you really hate meditation? Try micro-mindfulness. I discovered it while gardening.
I was pulling some weeds from the base of my tomato plants when I realized I was thinking about absolutely nothing. Pulling those weeds, I was in the moment. I felt at peace.
Mind-wandering is the cause, not the consequence, of unhappiness. Letting your mind wander leads to unhappiness just a short time afterward. That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to what your mind is doing.
If you struggle to meditate, try this micro-mindfulness strategy. You can use it anytime to increase your happiness.
- Right now, write down a list of five things you enjoy doing. For me, that’s cooking, gardening, reading a book, hanging with family or hiking in the woods.
- The next time you engage in one of those activities, focus on your senses. What do you taste? How does your body feel? What do you hear? What do you smell?
- The moment you catch your mind drifting to the future, the past or something unrelated to right now, catch yourself and direct your mind back to this moment. Anchor on your senses.
- If you have trouble sticking in this moment, try expressing your appreciation for the thing you are doing as a way to quiet your mind and focus on the now.
The more you do this, the easier it becomes. Once you’re a pro at being mindful during your favorite activities, you can use this same process in other daily events. Through micro-mindfulness you can quiet your mind and experience greater happiness and satisfaction in your life at any moment.
This article originally appeared in the August 2017 issue of SUCCESS magazine.