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Enjoy the moment

While we're often happiest when we live in the moment, the busyness of modern life can make it tricky to be present, enjoy our lives and notice the world around us.

What is this... mindfulness?!

Mindfulness is a fancy word for giving your full, open-hearted attention to what is immediately occurring in your life.

Being mindful allows us to better understand situations, emotions, other people and what is actually happening. It allows us to respond appropriately, rather than just react. It also enables us to get the most out of our lives every day.

In the below Greater Good video, American mindfulness pioneer Jon Kabat-Zinn describes mindfulness as being “about living your life as if it really mattered, moment, by moment, by moment, by moment.”

So, how mindful are you?

Do you savour life or let everyday stresses control you?

To find out how mindful you are, take this quiz!

Why be mindful?

Being aware of what you’re doing and how you’re feeling in each moment can boost positive emotions such as joy and happiness. Find out more, or

Practicing mindfulness can:

  • decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • decrease the production of the stress hormone, cortisol.
  • improve concentration and the ability to learn.
  • increase resilience.
  • increase calmness.
  • enhance self-awareness.
  • help with conflict resolution and the development of positive relationships.
  • increase wellbeing.

A wandering mind is an unhappy mind

A massive study using smartphones to monitor happiness levels in real time shows a clear relationship between mind-wandering or having scattered attention and unhappiness.

The more our mind wanders, the less happy we can be. The flip side is that we're often happiest when we're lost in the moment.

The research data suggests our minds wander from the task at hand at least 30% of the time, and that when our minds wander we often think about unpleasant things like our worries, our anxieties, and our regrets.

Click here to find out more and sign up to the study.

In the 'zone'? You’re half way there!

We all have times when we ‘enjoy getting lost’ in doing something. Whether you’re in the garden, playing guitar, or perfecting a haiku, there are moments we all have when time just flies by. When you’re doing something you enjoy your mind tends to be fully focused on the fun you’re having. This ‘in the zone’ state of mind is called ‘flow’.

While flow can be considered a first step towards mindfulness, they’re still quite different. Mindfulness requires you to be aware of your thoughts and feelings, whereas flow involves being focused on ‘doing’ a task (often with no reflection on what else is happening in that moment).

Worth the practice

Like all areas of our health and wellbeing, mindfulness doesn't just come naturally without effort. The truth is, to be 'fit' we have to get stuck in and make some time for it every day. Our mental wellbeing is just the same. There are many exercises we can do to be more mindful, some involve more formal practice such as meditation but there are many 'informal', little things we can practice every day that will help in training our mind towards mindfulness.

  1. Practice giving your full attention to everyday activities, however mundane – things like doing the dishes, having a shower and brushing your teeth.
  2. Spend a bit of time doing these activities in a mindful way – noticing the physical sensations and any thoughts or feelings that arise.
  3. Practice for a few minutes everyday.

To practice mindfulness while you’re in the shower spend sometime examining…

  • how the water feels against your skin
  • how the water flows down your body
  • what the soap smells like
  • what sounds the water make as it goes down the plug
  • what path water droplets take as they go down the glass

Don't worry if your mind sometimes wanders and drifts – the more you practice, the better you’ll get. In fact, even noticing that your mind is wandering is a step towards mindfulness! You will know you're making progress when you are able to sustain attention on this little enquiry into having a shower!

The good news is that as you already do these things everyday, you don’t have to find new time during your day. It also means that there’s lots of opportunities to practice!

Remember, mindfulness is a way of being in the world. Sustaining our attention and improving our ability to focus is the training towards this goal.

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