How to Increase Mindfulness

Mindfulness might sound a little woo-woo-new-agey, but it’s actually been practiced for centuries. At it’s core, it is paying attention on purpose, without judgment, and just living in the moment. For most of us, that is incredibly difficult to do – life is just so … busy. But it can be done.

In my last blog post, I wrote about the link between mindfulness and productivity and the traits of mindful leaders. In this post, we’ll look at specific exercises you can do to increase mindfulness.

Here are 5 ways to practice mindfulness:

1 – Meditate – sit in a comfortable spot, palms resting on your thighs or knees, eyes closed. Pay attention to your breathing for a few minutes. Let thoughts come and go without spending too much time on each. Start with5-10 minutes of meditation and work your way up to 20-30.

2 – Listen to people – when your spouse, children, colleagues, or direct reports are talking to you, look them in the eye and really listen to what they are saying. Repeat back what you heard them say rather than immediately forming your response.

3 – Pay attention to details– in your day-to-day life, let your mind briefly focus on the sounds, sights, and smells around you. When you’re cooking, breathe in the scent coming from the simmering pot, hot oven, or smoking grill. When you’re outside, listen to the chatter of the birds and the rustle of the leaves.

4 – Practice gratitude – it is incredibly easy to take things in our lives for granted, from the sunrise to our children’s’ laughter. Pay attention to the people, things, and experiences in your life that bring you joy, and be grateful for them.

5 – Think first, respond second – when you need to respond to a difficult question, a challenging email, or an angry accusation, stop and think about it first. How do you feel? Why do you feel that way? Once you understand why you feel the way you do, you can respond intelligently – and possibly diffuse an ugly situation.

The more you practice, the more productive, creative, and focused you will be.  Which practice will you work on this week?

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