The First Step in Building a Mindfulness Practice

“Most of the things we worry about… never happen.”

That is one of my favorite quotes and I’m not even sure who said it. It just couldn’t be more true.

I can’t tell you how many times I catch myself getting caught up in so many “what if” scenarios. What if I’m late? What if I’m too early? What if they don’t like me? What if everyone else is better than me? What if I fail? What if I succeed? What if it doesn’t work? What if I don’t make it home before my seamless delivery? Ha, the scenarios are truly endless and as the quote says: most of those things I worry about never happen.

So, all that time spent worrying?

Wasted.

And on the flip-side of that quote, I won’t even attempt to recount for you the endless scenarios I’ve recounted from the past. Like, what if that would have gone differently? Or if that person would have just done it my way. And on and on and on…

Of course there are benefits of recounting the past and learning from your mistakes—just as there are benefits of thinking about the future and planning. But if we get really honest with ourselves, how many of our “what ifs” are actually beneficial? Probably not very many.  

If you’re not what if-ing your future and you’re not unnecessarily recounting your past, you’re more than likely living in the present moment and this is the sweet spot of life, people!

Pure magic.

Creating a habit of being present was/is truly life-changing for me. Last week, I blogged about 4 tools that helped me to create a habit of being present and for the rest of May, I’m bringing you even more tips, tools, and strategies for doing the same.

Today, I’m talking about what exactly I mean by “creating a habit of being present,” why we should even care about mindfulness, and the very first step in building this game-changing habit.

What does creating a habit of being present even mean?

According to Dictionary.com, mindfulness is: “a technique in which one focuses one's full attention only on the present, experiencing thoughts, feelings, and sensations but not judging them

To put it as simply as possible, creating a habit of being present is mindfulness.

Why we should care about mindfulness

I really and truly mean it when I say our ability be fully present is a competitive advantage in our career, leadership, and life. If we want to be successful in our careers, enjoy lives to the fullest, feel happier more often – it all hinges on our ability to let go of the past, become unattached to future outcome, and be fully present in each moment.

This quote by Viktor E. Frankl is the essentially the reason I meditate and practice mindfulness:

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. Viktor E. Frankl”

My absolute favorite benefit and what I truly believe has contributed to my success and happiness is that magical little moment between stimulus and response where we can actually choose how we want to respond to something or someone. I mean wow. Ok, I’m human so of course I can’t always choose how I want to respond (this is why it’s called a mindfulness practice – practice being the key word!) but developing that moment for myself has brought a sense of calm that I don’t really even have words for.

The first step in building a mindfulness practice

With almost anything in life, the first step in changing or improving any behavior is to bring awareness to the behavior or habit that we want to change. In order to show up more present in our lives, we first have to bring awareness to when we're not showing up present.  

When I first tried this, I kept a running note on my phone and would log when I would catch myself really not present. I noticed that when I would walk to the train, I found myself thinking about whether or not the train would be there, how long I’d have to wait, or if I would make it to work on time. Often, when I would watch TV, I would also scroll through my facebook feed. When I would cook, I would turn the TV on – all of these things are examples of not being fully present.

It's time to take action: this step and exercise for the week is so simple. Start to bring awareness to when you’re in the present moment and when you’re not. I’m not asking you to change any behavior or do anything differently – just begin to notice.

Next week, we’ll take a stab at changing some of our behaviors but this week it’s all about creating awareness.

As always, I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Share your thoughts about the article, mindfulness, living in the present – anything that strikes you.

Thank you for reading!

Xo

Am K Hall