It is a fact that most humans wander through life mindlessly, letting the winds of change fling them to and fro like a boat on tumultuous seas, as if they have no control over whatsoever happens in their life. Please don’t get offended because I have said this. Only because this mindless behavior is done unconsciously, and we really don’t realize that is how we are living our lives. But there is good news. You only wander mindlessly until you realize that is what you are doing. It is then, and only then, that you can make a CHOICE to either continue wandering mindlessly, or to experience inner peace, joy and love through living mindfully in your daily life. You cannot make the choice to live mindfully until you realize that you have been living mindlessly all this time.
What is Mindlessness?
“In today’s rush, we all think too much – seek too much – want too much – and forget about the joy of just being.” – Eckhart Tolle
There are certain characteristics that a person living mindlessly will display. You may recognize the characteristics in yourself or in others that you know. I would say only about one in 100 are living mindfully, if even that many, so you should be able to witness mindless activity everywhere you look. We cannot know we are acting mindlessly unless we know these characteristics. It is when we recognize these characteristics in ourselves that we can make the change to live mindfully.
Trapped by labels: Defining their own, and other people’s worth by their labels. Labels can be determined by race, gender, religious affiliation, political beliefs, how much money a person makes, where they live, what they do for a living, who they associate with, and what a person believes. When we define people by their labels, we make judgments about those people. For example, people are hated because of their skin color or their political beliefs, without ever knowing them as a person. This is a perfect example of the old saying, don’t judge a book by its cover.
Automatic emotionally-fueled behavior: Think of someone you know who, when they get angry they automatically start yelling and screaming, at someone or about a situation they don’t like. Or someone may get very defensive because someone or something has challenged a belief that they hold. This type of behavior happens automatically, without us thinking about what we are doing. It is mindless behavior. It is our job to gain control of our emotions, and to choose our reactions to people and situations.
Are not willing to see another’s perspective: Someone who behaves mindlessly is not willing to see things from another perspective. They believe that their beliefs are the only truths, and that everyone else is wrong if they don’t have those same beliefs. Our political system is a perfect example of this, their way (either party) is the only way, and nothing else needs to be looked at. Being willing to see things from another person’s perspective is how empathy is experienced. When you choose to only see the world through only one lens, it creates a very limiting belief system.
When living mindlesly we let our emotions determine the quality of our days, our lives. But what we don’t realize is that our feelings will always be inconsistent and fleeting, and that will only create a great roller coaster with many wists and turns that are not able to be navigated. We end up giving up our power to make our life what WE want it to be, and allowing others to dictate how our life will go. You see, when we look at the wars, and homelessness, and all the problems in this world, it is because so many people, leaders included, are moving through life mindlessly If we want to see change in this world, we must choose to live mindfully. In order to live mindfully, we need to know what it is. When living mindlessly we let our emotions determine the quality of our days, our lives.
What is Mindfulness?
“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulnes. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
Since I have explained what mindfulness isn’t, I can now talk about mindfulness. Mindfulness, defined simply, is the ability to focus on any one thing at any one given moment. Artists are mindful when they are creating, even if they don’t know that’s what it is. I personally love to draw, and when I am drawing there is nothing I am thinking about or focusing on except the drawing in front of me. It can be very meditative, like many other things. Mindfulness is choosing to NOT let the little voice, the monkey chatter in your mind control your behavior and your reactions. Just like there are certain characteristics that a person behaving mindlessly will exhibit, a person living mindfully will have certain characteristics about them. We can only become mindful if we know what it is.
Recognizes that labels are just labels: People who live mindfully realize that all people have labels that society has given them, or they have given themselves. Living mindfully means that you don’t define a person by a label, by the color of their skin or where they live, you recognize that they are another human being just trying to do their best to get through this life, just like you. Labels do not define who we are, because who we are lies beneath all the labels.
Responding as opposed to reacting: As opposed to just reacting to an emotion we are experiencing or a situation that we don’t like, we consider all responses possible before interacting. Before living mindfully, I personally would react very intensely to my anger. I was a screamer and a yeller, and that is exactly how I reacted when I got angry. Now, I choose how I will respond to someone or something that makes me angry, and not react. It has taken me a long time to be able to do this, but enjoy more inner peace because of it. Emotional intelligence is key to living mindfully.
Open to new information and new perspectives: The fact is that there are as many perspectives of the world as there are people who exist in it…to date that is about 7 billion. So for us to believe that our perspective is the only truth is truly mindless. Have you ever noticed that when there are witnesses to a crime, every single one of them has a different rendition of what happened. We all have filters that we look at the world through, most of them coming from our childhood. It is these filters that cause our judgments towards new and different things. Living mindfully means accepting that everyone has their own journey to go through, and that everyone isn’t going to see the world the same way, and being okay with other people’s perspective. I also feel it means that we must accept that if we were given the same path, the same life up to that point, that we would behave in the same way. We can never understand another person’s life, but we can accept that there is always new information, new perspectives to help us maneuver through life.
You Can Choose Mindfulness!
The first step to living mindfully is to become aware that you have been living mindlessly. And it will be like running into a brick wall when it happens. It will be natural for you to be upset with yourself because you have been living mindlessly all this time. But remember, it was being done unconsciously, and unintentionally, because that is how you thought life was supposed to be lived. It was what you were taught. Be very very grateful when that light comes on and you become aware of your mindless behavior, because it is then that you can choose to move forward with inner peace and joy by living your life mindfully.