Add These 6 Easy Habits to Your Day to Master Mindfulness
Busyness has become a badge of honor. We are addicted to its buzz because, well, being in demand feels pretty good. And working and living fast makes us feel productive even when we’re not.
Much of that comes down to how our brains work. The brain uses a whopping 20% of the body’s total energy output. Our conscious brain is a fantastic processing machine. It is brilliant at learning new things from first principles—but it eats up quite a bit of power.
It’s also a smart machine—which is why it conserves energy by to using our subconscious, or as I like to call it, autopilot, whenever possible. It looks at what’s in front of us, searching for situations that look familiar to ones we already know and carrying out default instructions so our conscious brain can have a rest. This is why we can drive long distances without remembering large chunks of the journey (literal autopilot).
This is fantastic design, but as we get more and more overloaded, autopilot kicks in more frequently to help our brains cope. Even when we don’t need it—like those moments when, if we manage to open our eyes, we can feel conscious, joyful, and part of something bigger.
In these uncertain and fast-moving political, social, and economic times, it’s essential to pause and seek a way to feel more conscious and alive. When we are more conscious we have a far greater chance of seeing positivity in our lives—and making better decisions that will help us feel happier and engaged with the world we live in.
How do we wake up to consciousness and still manage our busy lives? I wrote Wake Up! in attempt to answer that question. The secret to finding this balance is to experiment with new and rich experiences that pique our attention and help us understand ourselves and our environments. Comedian George Carlin called this “vuja dé”: a sense of unfamiliarity in the familiar. By stimulating our minds to shift their perspective, we reveal opportunities that we hadn’t necessarily seen before. To start, introduce the following six exercises into your life, one by one over a period of a few days, or dip in as feels right for you. They’re not meant as another box on your to-do list but as a bit of awake fun to add to your day.
Chris Baréz-Brown is a speaker, wellbeing expert, and the author of Wake Up!, published by The Experiment Publishing.
Dance Like Nobody Is Watching
Dancing is not only fun but has been proven time and again to boost us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Choose a time in your day that suits you and a tune that gets your groove on, and lose yourself to the music. On your own or with others, it is guaranteed to help you wake up!
Spread The Love
This is one of my favorite ways to help prime our selective attention to see more positivity. We all need meaningful human connection in our lives for our wellbeing. It is what makes us human. Find one person a day and share what it is that you love about them, however small that may be. Big things often have small beginnings.
Our obsession with consumption is slowly destroying not only our planet but our individual and collective happiness. It is a key indicator that we are living on autopilot. We buy things to avoid connecting into what really counts in our lives. Over a period of four days, experiment by allowing yourself to only buy food and water (excluding travel and essential medical supplies). See if this helps you wake up to the world around you.
A century ago, only 10 per cent of us had sedentary jobs. Now, that number is closer to 90 percent. Sitting down all day has become the "new smoking"; it's causing health issues worldwide. Think of ways you can get your body moving regularly within your day, whether it's a brisk walk round the block or a makeshift standing desk to use intermittently. Even small amounts of regular movement help us engage our conscious mind.
Handwrite a Letter
We now check our phones on average 1,500 times a week and with this addiction comes disconnection from the people we love. Write a letter to somebody special and explain to them why you are grateful that they are in your life. It's a simple but forgotten form of communication that has a powerful impact! Make it a regular part of your life and see how it impacts your wellbeing.
Steal Back Time
Time does not have to rule us. Online calenders and notifications make it super easy for us to switch off and live on autopilot. We rush from one appointment to the next, not really enjoying the journey, just ticking off our achievements. Each day this week, steal back some time from your schedule. That might mean canceling a meeting or social event or asking a friend to help you out with a chore. The secret to making this work is to fill the space with stuff that is truly for you. This helps us give more attention to what counts, not what shouts loudest.