The mind is our greatest asset as human beings. A mind that is focused on past events or always worrying about the future would be less productive. Having a mindful mindset helps you live in the here and now.
In this present society where you are bombarded with a lot of negativity, especially from the new media, staying positive can sometimes be difficult. That is why having a mindful mindset is very paramount. What really is a mindful mindset?
What is Mindful Mindset?
Before defining the term, we need to know what being mindful is and what is a mindset.
Simply put, being mindful is being fully present at the moment. It is consciously letting your mind focus on the now and not on the past or the future. Mindfulness involves you concentrating on the rise and fall of your chest while breathing (focusing on your breath is a form of mindfulness).
It is also the awareness of your present feelings and thoughts; why do you feel the way you’re feeling? Where can this feeling be traced to?
On the other hand, mindset is a set of beliefs that governs how you see and react to the world. These sets of beliefs have been influenced by your parental upbringing, peer group, and environment. This influence comes with the pressure of viewing reality through the lenses of your past or future.
This is where mindfulness comes in. Mindfulness helps you view the world through the lenses of the present.
Thus, a mindful mindset means cultivating a mind that is attentive to the present. That is your mind isn’t always analyzing your past or future. Rather it acknowledges and accepts without judgment what is happening.
It is typical of the mind to constantly think, fantasize, analyze or worry over a thing. However, with the help of mindfulness, the mind can be retrained to be still and settle into the present moment.
To be mindful doesn’t entail trying to control or fix a thing, rather it’s deliberately experiencing your surroundings, thoughts, and feelings without judgment.
The practice of building a mindful mindset has to be done with patience and consistency. Easily giving up means losing on all its benefits.
Benefits of a Mindful Mindset
1. Less reactive, more responsive
A prominent benefit is that you react less and respond more to situations.
Let me explain:
When you are presented with a game (probably a puzzle) that you are not skilled at. What was your first reaction? Was your first thought ” oh, I suck at this game so I will certainly lose”?
Well, that was a wrong approach.
If you have built a mindful mindset, your response will be to focus on the game and enjoy the brainstorming process without the judgment of whether you suck at it or not.
The difference here is that you respond to situations without trying to figure out everything. You are taking it a step at a time.
2. Improves Mental Health
Stress, anxiety, and depression are the results of a constant worry. As earlier stated our mind can’t help but worry.
However, studies have shown that rumination deteriorates mental health and that a way out is by practicing mindfulness.
The outcome of the periodic practice of mindfulness is having a strong mindful mindset.
Also, this practice provides therapeutic benefits to people with mental illness.
3. More productive at work
A calm mind will be more focused at work than that which is full of worries. Also, a focused mind is productive because it isn’t distracted.
Thus, a mindful mindset -which must have mastered the art of mindfulness, can manage his/her thoughts and actions. That is, you can direct your thought which indirectly influences your outcome.
Your ability to direct your thoughts to the task at hand will certainly produce the desired result.
4. Lowers stress level
Sometimes, we don’t realize how stressed we are until we break down. One way to avoid this mishap is to reduce our stress levels.
Through the mindful exercise, you become more aware of your thoughts and body in such a way that your first response to a situation isn’t to act but rather to take a “step back” and analyze how you are feeling at the moment.
You should know that accumulated stress can be a result of pent-up feelings/emotions.
Also, it reduces your background level of stress, by minimizing activity in the part of your brain called the amygdala (the amygdala switches on your stress response).
How To Practice Having a Mindful Mindset
It’s with no doubt that one of the foremost and well-known practices of having a mindful mindset is by practicing meditation. There are different types of meditation, but they all try to fulfill one purpose which is to create awareness of the present moment.
However, in this context, the best type of meditation to practice is mindfulness meditation.
Mindfulness meditation involves observing your thoughts without immediately trying to form an opinion or pass judgment.
The two core principles guiding this practice are concentration and awareness. To effectively achieve maximum concentration, you need to find a focus. For instance, you can decide to focus on your breath. That is, how you inhale and exhale and how your body feels.
Constantly practicing mindfulness meditation will improve how you think and react to situations (your mindset). The result of this consistency will become your new normal.
The uniqueness of this technique is that it can be practiced anywhere. All you need to do is to meditate on whatever activities you are carrying out. These activities could be, brushing teeth, driving, doing house chores, or strolling.
2. Practice mental detox
Mental detox is the process of cleansing the mind of negative and unhealthy thinking. The benefit of mental detox is to restore focus and clarity.
By detoxing, you are able to purge negative thoughts, thereby creating mental space to focus on any task at hand. At this point, your mind is calm and able to be aware of what is going on at the moment.
A way to detox your mind is to constantly practice Introspection. Introspection is the process of reflecting on one’s thoughts or feelings.
Regularly conducting self-examination helps to know when your mind space is full of negativity.
3. Jotting and venting.
Jotting your thoughts or present feeling is a form of decluttering your mind. When you jot down these emotions, you are indirectly purging these emotions (usually negative) out of your system.
This process could be called venting. You are not venting your pent-up emotions on a person but on a thing (jotter). Also, you are listening to yourself through words. Thus, this brings about clarity in your life.
After jotting, you feel lighter than you were. At this point, you have emptied the burden in your mind and can now be aware of the present moment.
What Are Some Challenges You May Face When Practicing Mindfulness?
1. Drifting of the mind during meditation
A 2020 study says that people typically have more than 6,000 thoughts per day. Unfortunately, we spend an average of 95% of this time in the subconscious mind.
This means that 4,500 out of 6,000 thoughts were focused on something abstract from the present activity
This serves as a problem in developing a mindful mindset because you might find it difficult to concentrate during meditation.
The greatest enemy of success is inconsistency. This also applies here.
There are days you will want to skip your mindful mindset practices. Perhaps, you promise yourself that it will be just for that day. However, days crawled into weeks and you are yet to practice.
A way to resist the urge to give into inconsistency is by having daily reminders and motivation. During your low-spirited days, you can rely on your inspiration.
Also, another thing that fuels inconsistency is when we don’t see the physical result of what we are working towards. At this point, you should know that progress doesn’t always come quickly. But don’t give up.
3. Preoccupied with other activities
As long as we have life, we will always be engaged in either a mental or physical activity.
Jumping from one task to another makes your mind preoccupied, thereby making it difficult for you to stay still and be aware of your feelings at the moment.
A way to deviate from your busy day is to start taking a few minutes to intentionally breathe. Treat your breathing exercise like a doctor’s appointment. When it is time, excuse yourself from whatever task you are at, then slowly breathe in and out.
Tips For Staying Mindful
1. Be patient
As earlier stated progress doesn’t come quickly. Thus, you need to be patient with yourself when your mind drifts away during meditation. Don’t get angry, forgive yourself, and continue with your meditation. Getting upset won’t change the fact that you were once distracted.
You might make the same mistake multiple times. But don’t give up. Be patient and intentional.
2. Create breaks
Avoid overwhelming yourself with so much activity. The result is that you end up being burned out. Intentionally take time to rest during the day bustle. The easiest way to do this is by scheduling your day in blocks.
You can start your day with a small task for easy wins. Still, in the euphoria of completing a task at the beginning of the day, you can reward yourself with a break.
Your break could be in the form of taking a 5-minute mindful walk or listening to a meditative podcast.
3 Don’t give a response on impulse
Another helpful tip on staying mindful is by thinking deeply before giving a response. Resist giving a response based on your first hearing.
Patiently listen to what is been said without judgment or biased emotions. By doing this, you will be able to respond mindfully, because your feedback has been well thought through.