A Powerful 5 Step Guide For A Happier, More Mindful Life
What if I told you there was a super simple way to invite more positivity into your life?
More fulfilment, clarity, purpose, joy and satisfaction on a daily basis?
Mindfulness is a quiet, yet powerful practice which can transform the way we perceive and experience our lives. Far beyond helping us become more present, it can change how we react to stress, how we interact with our loved ones, how we think and behave, how we feel (or at least, how we feel about our feelings!) and so much more.
How do I know this?
Because I used to wake up in the morning and feel my stomach drop at the thought of everything I had to do.
My critical self-talk began almost straight away and triggered a sense of hopelessness and unworthiness.
I often felt quick to anger and frustration, disconnected from the people around me and reliant on unhelpful coping mechanisms, such as splurging on shopping excursions I couldn’t afford and avoiding my fears.
Becoming more mindful has gradually helped me address these challenges and welcome more positivity into my life. It has helped me to see how much I have to be grateful for and engage in other activities more consciously to properly enjoy them.
The five tips in this article will help you to do the same and I’ve even created an interactive workbook to help you take these practices a little further!
Tip One: Mindfully engage in meaningful hobbies
Together, mindfulness and hobbies can add more richness, fulfilment and fun into our lives.
Here are some of the hobbies I have and how I do them more mindfully, to start giving you a few ideas!
I really enjoy reading books- it’s one of the hobbies I’ve had for most of my life. I remember when I was little, I would wake up extra early before school so I could lie in bed and read. Reading gives me time to unwind, let go of everything I’m thinking or worrying about and simply be there, reading my book. If I do notice that my mind has started to wander and maybe I’ve read a page without actually taking anything in, I’ll reset and go back to read with a more present and focused mind.
Another hobby of mine is cooking. I don’t often use recipes when I cook anymore, because I like to make it up as I go along or use my memory. As I cook, I love smelling the different ingredients, tasting things to make sure I’ve got the balance right, using various techniques and actually paying attention as I do them.
Yoga is another of my favourite hobbies as it is such a great way for me to unwind and spend some quality time tuning in to my body and how it feels. It’s also an awesome opportunity to pay attention to my breath and practise different breathing techniques, which really compliments my mindfulness practice and empowers me in my day to day life and dealing with stressful situations.
Which hobbies could you start to implement more regularly into your own life and how can you do them more mindfully?
Tip Two: See daily tasks and chores as opportunities to practise mindfulness
Using mindfulness during daily tasks has made my everyday life feel more meaningful and less rushed.
General tidying up is something many of us do each day and it’s a great way to add a little more mindfulness into our lives.
One simple way to do this is to start paying closer attention to your hands.
How do they move? What do various temperatures and textures feel like? Does your right hand do different things from your left?
These movements and sensations can be automatic and overlooked, but we can actually have a wonderful opportunity to use our hands more mindfully by paying attention to them from moment to moment. Try to switch off the automatic and pretend like you’re tidying for the first time and you’re trying to commit the actions to memory. Whenever your mind wanders, which it’s likely to do, just bring it back to whichever experience your hands are having now.
Washing the dishes is another task we can easily use to practise mindfulness. As you wash the dishes, start to bring your attention to the different sensations you can notice. The smell of the dishwashing liquid, the warmth of the water, the smoothness and slipperiness of the dishes.
Tip Three: Say yes to what lights you up
Something I’ve been learning over the past few months is that saying yes to the things which make me happy is a very conscious choice. It’s a choice I think many people overlook as we tend to focus on saying yes only to what we believe is necessary and we forget about making the effort to say yes to what we might enjoy.
For example, I would say yes to cleaning the house, doing the washing and getting the groceries before going to yoga and catching up with a friend for coffee.
I would say yes to working an extra day at my part-time job, even if it meant sacrificing a day on my business.
I would say yes to answering an email before going to bed, rather than writing in my journal about my favourite memories from the day.
I would cook meals for my family based on what they preferred to eat, rather than what I liked.
I realised I was regularly making small choices which took a little bit of positivity out of my days, instead of encouraging it!
Since then, I’ve been consciously choosing to say yes to things which light me up, from re-joining my yoga studio to making travel plans for next year (and creating a saving schedule for it!).
Saying yes doesn’t always mean having to buy new things or spend money, either; you can say yes to experiences, goals, self-care, quality time with loved ones, or trying something new!
What would you like to say yes to?
Tip Four: Creating positive spaces
I know I’ve been talking quite a lot about yoga recently because I’m really excited to have joined my old studio again, but this place is one of my favourite positive spaces at the moment. As soon as I walk in there, I know I have an hour to myself of meditation, movement, relaxation and mindfulness. It smells beautiful, there is so much light, there’s no pressure on me to be anything more than what I am, I love the supportive props and the room décor.
Maybe, there’s a place you can go too, which resonates with you, gives you opportunities to feel joyful and practise mindfulness.
Perhaps a garden, a café, your hometown, the beach, a gym, your car, an event or workshop, a meditation class, a lake, a park, your backyard.
Take a moment to think of any many places which make you feel good and set the intention to visit often. Recharging in a positive place is a great way to invite more of those pleasant feelings into your life and to let go of any thoughts which might be hurting you. These places can help you feel safe, or calm, or comforted during times of sadness and stress.
Maybe, they uplift you and you leave feeling lighter than you did when you arrived.
Tip Five: Happy habits
Happy habits are a really simple way to add both more mindfulness and positivity into our lives.
One of the exciting things about habits is you get to choose what you do, what you add into your life and how often these habits occur.
For example, maybe you want to read a book every week, or every month. Maybe you want to drink two cups of coffee or tea or hot chocolate instead of one. Maybe you want to journal once a week. It’s completely up to you how you set up your habit, but I highly recommend that you think about how to make it realistic and achievable for your lifestyle. You can always increase or decrease or change your habits when you need to as well, so please don’t feel like you’re locked in once you start. Try experimenting with different habits and see what suits you and what feels good. If you notice that a habit is making you feel more stressed out than mindful and positive, then allow for some flexibility and make it easier for yourself.
Habits are great because they become regular parts of our lives, but the not so great thing which can happen as a result is that we can easily switch into automatic because we don’t need to think about how to do them. For example, you probably have quite a few habits you might not even realise are habits and your mind can wander away from the present moment as you do them. For example, walking, brushing your teeth, making your bed, taking a shower, listening to music, cooking dinner, eating and so on. Now, what we can try to do is come out of autopilot and actually pay attention as our habits unfold. Notice when your mind is wandering unnecessarily and try to bring it back to the present moment. Don’t worry if this is hard to do sometimes, or if your mind wanders over and over again.