What does it really mean to be a mindful person — and what do they do differently every day to live more mindfully? Mindfulness, the practice of cultivating a focused awareness on the present moment, is both a daily habit and a lifelong process. It’s most commonly practiced and cultivated through meditation, although being mindful does not necessarily require a meditation practice.
Here are 5 things mindful people actually do every day to stay calm, centered and attentive to the present moment.
1. They meditate
You can be mindful without meditating, but all the research and experts tell us that meditation is the most sure-fire way to become more mindful. A regular practice can help to reduce stress, improve cognitive function, and boost well-being. Research has found that mindfulness meditation can even alter gene expression, lowering the body’s inflammatory response.
Aside from the wealth of research on the physical and mental health benefits of meditation, the testimonies of countless meditators attests to the fact that a consistent practice can help you stay awake and present to your own life.
“It’s almost like a reboot for your brain and your soul,” Padmasree Warrior, CTO of Cisco, told the New York Times in 2012 of making the time to meditate and unplug. “It makes me so much calmer when I’m responding to e-mails later.”
2. They feel what they’re feeling
Mindfulness isn’t about being happy all the time. It’s about acceptance of the moment we’re in and feeling whatever we feel without trying to resist or control it.
Excessive preoccupation with happiness can actually be counterproductive, leading to an unhealthy attitude towards negative emotions and experiences. Mindful people don’t try to avoid negative emotions or always look on the bright side — rather, accepting both positive and negative emotions and letting different feelings coexist is a key component of remaining even-keeled and coping with life’s challenges in a mindful way.
Meditation, the quintessential mindfulness practice, has been shown to be a highly effective intervention for managing emotional challenges including anxiety, depression and stress. A 2013 study also found that people with mindful personalities enjoy greater emotional stability and improved sleep quality.
As Mother Teresa put it, “Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.”
3. They get outside
Spending time in nature is one of the most powerful ways of giving yourself a mental reboot and reinstating a sense of ease and wonder. Research has found that being outdoors can relieve stress, while also improving energy levels, memory and attention.
“We need the tonic of wildness,” Thoreau wrote in Walden. “At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.”
4. They seek out new experiences
Openness to experience is a byproduct of living mindfully, as those who prioritize presence and peace of mind tend to enjoy taking in and savoring moments of wonder and simple joy. New experiences, in turn, can help us to become more mindful.
“[Adventure] can naturally teach us to be here now. Really, really here,” adventurer Renee Sharp writes in Mindful Magazine. “To awaken to our senses. To embrace both our pleasant and our difficult emotions. To step into the unknown. To find the balance between holding on and letting go. And learn how to smile even when the currents of fear are churning within.”
5. They turn daily tasks into mindful moments
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