Mindful living can be challenging for us modern humans. We go through the motions, and we’re constantly bombarded with distractions that take us out of the present moment. A recent study found that 96% of participants were living their daily lives on autopilot.
We get up, go to work or school, come home and watch TV or stare at our phone screens until it’s time for bed. Then, we wake up and do it all over again. Of course, this isn’t true for everyone, but it’s a common story for people across the world.
Learning how to be more mindful in your everyday life can help you truly live in and enjoy the present moment. Although challenging, you can learn how to live mindfully. Here’s how.
7 Simple Tips for Mindful Living
1. Do Less
In today’s world, we value busyness above all else. If we’re not doing something or going somewhere, we must be wasting valuable time, right? This planet is full of human DOings and not enough human BEings.
If you want to live more mindfully, declutter your mind and live a healthy lifestyle, do less. It’s okay to say “no.” It’s okay to do nothing. Give yourself permission to just be in the moment without judgment or expectations.
When you have less on your plate, you have more time for being in the present moment.
2. Lower Your Expectations
If you’re like most people, you probably make plans and set goals. Maybe you expect things to go a certain way or for life to pan out exactly as you mapped it out.
Let’s say that you’re planning a trip to Europe. You have hopes and expectations of seeing all of these beautiful things and meeting new people. But during your trip, you encounter bad weather, your partner gets sick, and you wind up spending half the trip stuck in a hotel room. Your high expectations leave you feeling disappointed and angry. This was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime.
Expecting what life cannot give us is a surefire way to be disappointed. To live more mindfully, lower your expectations. Better yet, throw them out of the window. Because when you have an idea of how things should go, you’re only living in the future instead of living in the moment.
When you have no expectations, life becomes an adventure. You never know what’s around the corner, and you adapt to change without missing a beat.
3. Ditch the Distractions
The average person now spends 4.2 hours per day using apps on their phones. That’s up 30% from 2019. In some parts of the world, people spend an average of 5 hours a day on their phones. This doesn’t include the amount of time people spend streaming TV and movies or watching television.
We are living in a world of distractions and information overload. It can be challenging to stay rooted in reality and the present moment when distractions are just a tap away.
To live mindfully, ditch the distractions. I’m not asking you to throw your phone out the window or cancel your Netflix subscription (although you can if you want!). But be mindful of the time you’re spending on these things.
Put away your phone when you’re eating with your family. Instead of spending hours playing games on your phone, give yourself 20-30 minutes. Be with the people you love.
Limiting your screen time and eliminating as many distractions as possible will help you be mindful of every moment. Because you can’t be present if you’re constantly trying to escape reality.
4. Connect to Your Senses
Your body is equipped with five incredible senses. Use them to ground you in the present and be aware of each moment. After all, the practice of mindfulness is all about being aware of all the sensations, smells, sounds, tastes and sights in the world around you.
How can you connect with your senses? Do a body scan.
- Pay attention to your breathing (a.k.a. mindful breathing). Feel the ebb and flow of each breath. Notice any feelings that come through. Be aware of the sound of your breath. Conscious breathing is a powerful mindfulness practice.
- Observe the world around you. What do you see?
- Listen closely to the sounds around you. What do you hear?
- What do you smell or taste?
Going through each individual sense can help you really become fully immersed in the moment. Make this a part of your regular practice to pull yourself into the present when you’re feeling distracted or moving on autopilot.
5. Accept and Observe Discomfort
The mindful life is all about being aware of and observing the present moment, and that includes negative emotions. As much as we would like to believe that life is rainbows and butterflies, it’s not. It can be hard to accept discomfort because our natural reaction is to find a way to escape it.
But life is not always easy or even enjoyable. It can be tough – grueling even. We grieve. We hurt. We get sick. Our loved ones pass on and leave us behind. Instead of running away from discomfort, pain or emotion, accept it. Observe it. In fact, open the door and welcome those difficult emotions. Acknowledge them, and then let them go.
The mindfulness practice, or meditation in general, you learn how to put space between yourself and your negative emotions and thoughts. You accept and observe discomfort without attachment or judgment.
The next time you feel sad, angry or anxious, pause for a moment and just allow your emotions to roll over you like a wave. It takes time, practice and patience to the art of mindful living, so be kind and patient with yourself as you learn how to accept discomfort.
6. Practice Gratitude
When you practice gratitude, you become mindful of all the wonderful things in your life. So, before you go to bed tonight, take a moment to identify three things you’re grateful for. You can write these things down in a journal if you like, but that’s not necessary. Just reflect on the day and express your appreciation in life. Make gratitude a daily habit.
In addition to helping you live more mindfully, gratitude can also help:
Gratitude is a powerful thing, and it helps you become keenly aware of your blessings, which can have positive effects on your mental health.
7. Shake Things Up
If you want to learn how to become mindful, shake up your usual routine.
- Take a new route home
- Try a new restaurant
- Strike up a conversation with a stranger
Breaking patterns and getting out of your usual routine anchors you to the present moment. Because when you’re just going through the motions and doing the same thing day in and day out, you’re living on autopilot. Tiptoe out of your comfort zone and notice how something as small and simple as changing your route home from work can bring you to the present moment.
Why does this happen? Because when you’re doing something new, you don’t know what to expect. When you venture into the unknown, you must be alert and aware of the world around you so that you can act accordingly.
Mindful Living is an Art and Science
Although it’s difficult to master the art of mindful living, it’s well worth the effort. Because when you do, you find beauty, contentment and peace of mind regardless of what’s going on around you. Use these mindful living tips to start living in the present.
Rene is a creative, little gnome. When she’s not diving deep into research on health and wellness, she’s spending here time out in nature, growing her homestead, photographing wildlife, doing yoga or enjoying a zen (depending on the day) moment with her fur babies. And on top of all of that, she’s a professional writer by day, helping businesses around the world grow.