Do any of these sound like you:
- I have to write three blog posts a week because that’s what everyone else does.
- I need to run to lose weight. My best friend started running and she lost weight.
- I just have to have that new foundation.
- I post on social media three times a day because that’s what the experts say to do, but no, I don’t really pay attention to what I write.
- I just put up a picture on Instagram each day but I don’t have a plan in place.
- I never have a plan when I go to the grocery store. I just load up the car with whatever looks good.
I have to, I need to, that’s what everyone else is doing…are you seeing the problem yet?
Let’s get real here: How many things do you do each day because you either 1) feel like you have to or 2) because everyone else does it that way? AND how many things do you do just for the hell of it, without really thinking about what or why?
You see, this used to be me. I’ve always done things because that’s what everyone said I had to do. In fact, I spent so many years living this way, I didn’t know how to listen to myself. I didn’t know there needed to be a reason why I did things. I was simply going through the motions day after day, never really pausing to ask myself, “Why am I doing this?”
My Focus for 2016: Mindfulness
About two months ago (November 2015), I decided enough was enough. I was going through those motions, checking off the to-do list each day, getting things done (technically), but I had no idea what my PURPOSE was. What was the purpose of my blog? What was the purpose of me using Instagram or Pinterest? Why did I participate in Twitter chats each week? Why did I care so much about art journaling?
As I dug deeper into my online business and blog, this WHY-questioning started spilling into the other areas of my life: Why did I always watch T.V. while I ate lunch? Why wasn’t I willing to work out more? Why did I have a drawer full of makeup I never wore…and on top of that: why did I even wear makeup? Why would I buy food at the grocery store and never eat it? Why, when a bagel and apple were sitting right next to each other on the counter, I always went for the bagel? Why did I own so much…stuff?
And because I promised to be real with you, let me tell you: I didn’t have an answer to ANY of these questions. I’ve told you those light-shining-from-above moments are rare, but oh man did this realization knock me on my butt. How could I be twenty-seven years old and not know I was living a life full of “Just because”? I admit this realization shook me—for a couple of weeks.
But since I’ve dealt with blocks like this before, I knew what to do: I kept journaling, I kept writing my morning pages, I kept brainstorming, I kept talking (mainly to my dog—she’s a great listener by the way). Even though the path was blocked and I couldn’t see where I was going, I kept walking. I continued to place one foot in front of the other, and guess what? The confusion and frustration started to clear away. I knew what I had to do: I need to have a PURPOSE. I needed to act with INTENTION. I needed to be MINDFUL of who I was and how I was spending my time.
What is Mindfulness?
Psychology Today sums up mindfulness perfectly:
“Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you're mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.”
Don’t let life pass you by; live in the moment. When I read that quote, I knew exactly what I had been doing wrong for almost three decades: I had been letting life pass me by. I was simply a bystander.
I don’t want to be a bystander anymore. I don’t want to go to bed at night wondering where my day went. I don’t want to wake up twenty years from now not knowing what I’ve done with my life. And I’ll be honest with you: I don’t want to write blog posts just for the sake of writing blog posts. I want to write meaningful posts that inspire you. I don’t want to eat just because I’m “bored.” I want to eat to be healthy and have energy. I don’t want to read just to read. I want to think; I want to grow. I want to have a purpose. I want to know my WHY’s and I want to be intentional about how I spend my time.
How Can You Make Time for Mindfulness?
And in any form: daily journal, art journal, brain dump, bullet journal, write morning pages, freewrite. Regardless of how you prefer to journal, start today. Start right now. We think we know everything in our minds; we don’t. Continual writing (and even drawing and painting) help us shift into our subconscious and uncover the deep stuff. I always tell people I don’t what I think until I write it down. Writing brings the real me forward. And it will bring the real YOU forward too.
Do This: When you first wake up in the morning, write for ten minutes (by hand). You don’t even need to get out of bed. Just grab a pad of paper and pen and write everything and anything that pops into your mind.
Hit the Pause Button and Listen
We live in a loud and busy world. There always seems to be something going on. We’re checking our email, playing games, chatting on social media, reading a book and listening to a podcast at the same time because we are positive we’re the exception to the multitasking-doesn’t-work rule. How many times a day do you just stop? Really? How many?
What is the worst thing that could happen if you work up twenty minutes early to spend time by yourself and just listen and breathe? No phone—just you alone with the quiet. Is everything at work going to come to halt if you step outside for five minutes (again, without the phone)? Will your children or husband starve if you spend ten minutes in your room by yourself a few times a day?
I’m being serious here: What is the worst that could happen?
Do This: 1) Set a timer on your phone for three times you know you'll be able to pause. For example, 6 am, 12 pm, and 8 pm. When you timer goes off, excuse yourself for at least five minutes to focus on your breathing, count backwards from 50, or just enjoy the few minutes you have. 2) Pay attention to your day and at any time you feel stressed or are losing focus, step outside for five minutes and breathe.
Do you know why you always eat that particular brand of cereal every morning? Do you know why you share quotes on Twitter? Do you know why you wrote the post that went up on your blog last week? Do you know why you bought the clothes in your closet or the food in your fridge? Do you know why you want to learn a new language?
Our days fly by so quickly, we rarely stop long enough to ask ourselves why we are doing something. And I bet if you really thought about the why behind your daily tasks, you could eliminate some real time-wasters.
Do This: Make a list of each of the following: tasks you do at home, personal tasks, and work tasks. Then, and this is important, write down WHY you do each of these tasks. Be honest with yourself here. If there are any tasks you are doing simply to pass the time or because you feel as though you have to, eliminate these them from your day.
I’m making 2016 a year of MINDFULNESS and I’m challenging you to do the same. Let’s eliminate those activities we do because we feel like we have to. Let’s stop standing on the sidelines as life passes us by. Let's be aware of and mindful of our days instead.
Are you willing to spend time this year being mindful?
And if you have one, tell me your word for 2016!