While reading some info on a science website I ran across a study that confirms the importance of being mindful. You know about mindfulness, right? Thinking about what you’re doing in the present moment while you’re in that moment. Two Harvard researchers, Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert used an iPhone app to study people’s happiness based on what they were doing and what they were thinking at that particular time. The study results confirm that being mindless and thinking about something other than what you’re doing makes you unhappy.
The three take-aways from the study for me are that your mind drifts away from focusing on what you’re doing over 46 percent of the time. The second finding is that when your mind wanders it can cause you to be unhappy. The most important study result to me is the final one. What you think is a better predictor of your happiness than what you do.
Simple. I think it proves that your brain rules over your body. The study found this is true for all of the things we do except one. Sex. When you’re having sex you’re pretty much thinking about sex. But for everything else we do, we’re often thinking about something else when we’re doing it. And when you’re doing that, you’re being mindless, not mindful. And it’s affecting your happiness.
I know mindfulness works. I used to be one of those people who was always thinking about what other people thought about something I said or did. Literally it would affect my sleep that night. Or it made me distracted as I went through my day. Constantly going back to revisit the moment again and again. It’s one of the many variations of being mindless.
After starting a yoga practice I realized how much better I felt when I focused for an hour on my intention and my breathing. To me yoga has three parts. First are the movements. Next is breathing. (I am still perfecting this one.) The final one is mindfulness. You set an intention for your hour of practice and work to focus on that intention during the class.
The mindfulness part was hard for me at first. Thoughts of what happened earlier that day or what I had to do after class used to fill my head. Then I attended a class where the instructor’s advice was a perfect analogy for me. She told us that when a thought comes into our mind, “swoosh” it away as easily as it entered. Just acknowledge it and send it on it’s way. Then return to the present moment.
Eventually I got the hang of keeping my thoughts in the moment for most of the hour. And it felt good. No worries, for real. It took a little longer to learn to breathe properly. (I know that sounds stupid since we have to breathe to live. But trust that you’re probably breathing shallow.) But now, after 10 years of yoga practice I am a much better breather than I used to be.
My yoga practice was the origin of my transition to being a more mindful person in all areas of my life. It started with yoga. Then I started using mindfulness to help improve my personal life. Now I use the concepts in business. It’s made me more courageous and more successful. Trust that I am a strong advocate for adding mindfulness to your life.