As we usher in a New Year, opportunities are ripe to build new habits and enhance skills that will help us reach our goals and achieve success. This article is part of a 4-article series to help jumpstart your year and set us up to win this 2018.
How many consecutive years have we promised ourselves to build new habits, or quit old ones, only to find ourselves back to our old ways by the end of January? How many times have we resolved to be more patient only to snap at the first sign of stress from a co-worker? A lot of times, perhaps.
They say that this is because “Old habits die hard”. But have we ever really stopped to wonder why habits are so hard to break? That’s because habits are built out of repeated practice until such a time that it’s automatic and spontaneous for us to do. Because of that, our habits become subconscious actions that most of us are barely aware of.
This is where Mindfulness helps. Building the Mindfulness habit will allow us to focus inward, into our thoughts, into our feelings and be able to notice the habits we’re constantly falling into and therefore, give us the power to shift these into ones that are more productive for our lives.
In addition to helping us break and build habits, Mindfulness has other benefits, too. For one, it helps us increase productivity. It’s basically like training our brains to become stronger and more focused with every task.
Furthermore, Mindfulness helps heighten our creativity. As it decreases stress in our brains, it empowers the part of the brain that lights up when we use our imagination and creativity.
Daniel Goleman, one of the lead thinkers of Emotional Intelligence, also mentions that Mindfulness helps develop our empathy towards others. This is particularly useful in dealing with stressful situations and in working in teams and organizations.
Lastly, building our Mindfulness habit will give us that cool, calm and collected state. It will help us quiet down and give us serenity and peace of mind amid all the emotions that surround us on a daily basis.
So how do we start the habit? Management Strategies’ Mindfulness Guru, Dax Cobarrubias, shares 5 quick tips:
#1 Choose a time to do it. The magic number based on research is 10 minutes, so find the time within your schedule to do it. The most ideal time slot is when you wake up, do a mindful meditation first thing in the morning. If you are the type of person who is always in a hurry in the morning, then set your alarm ten minutes earlier, it will be worth waking up a little earlier because mindfulness will give you the focus and energy you need for the day.
# 2 Once you find the time, get an app. Apps like Headspace and Simple Habit are highly recommended because they have guided meditation led by Meditation experts for beginners to help build the habit.
# 3 If you prefer to do it on your own, get Meditation Timer by Maxwell Software which is free on the App Store. Do the following settings: 30 seconds preparation time, 10 minutes meditation, 1 minute rest time. During these ten minutes just pay attention to your breath, the moment you get distracted just gently bring your attention back to your breathing.
# 4 Do it straight for three days, if it’s easy, then continue. If you miss a day it’s ok, don’t be hard on yourself, start again.
# 5 The first few days might be a struggle, it’s a normal reaction, so just be with it, don’t give up. There might be days when the meditation is full of distractions or unpleasant, don’t look at it as a failure, it’s the meditation your body needs today. There will be good meditation days and there will be bad ones as well.
During these ten minutes just pay attention to your breath, the moment you get distracted just gently bring your attention back to your breathing.
Building the Mindfulness Habit will allow us to bring back awareness to the actions, emotions and mindsets that we have built over the years and in the process, we gain clarity and insight on our habits which will make it easier to change the non-productive ones, and reinforce the ones that will help us succeed not only in 2018, but beyond.