The free dictionary defines mindfulness as follows:
(n.) the trait of staying aware of (paying close attention to) your responsibilities
What are some of our responsibilities in life? We all have basic need in life. Maslow's hierarchy of needs dictates that we need to fulfill five things in sequence. We must satisfy our physiological needs to live such as food, water and breath. Then we must satisfy a need for safety from the manifest threats of this world. From there we crave the attention and company of friends and significant others, and from here we seek things that bolster our self esteem and seek to gain not just the attention of but also the respect of others.Finally we look to bring some sort of deeper fulfillment in our lives, thinking of our legacy through creating things and solving problems.
As I glance over this list I see that pretty much all of them are important factors that all play into my own quality of life. Moreover these are all things to pay attention to, or I should say be mindful of. Certainty we should be aware of our need to eat and satisfy it or we will starve. It is equally important that we understand the condition of our relationships with friends, family, and significant others and give them proper maintenance or they will suffer. If we don't focus on our work we won't get that promotion. If we don't pay attention in class, our grades will suffer.
There is simple cause and effect that if we are not mindful of somethings, that is being aware of its condition and working to better its condition, then it will suffer.
I'm sure that we are all pretty good at keeping ourselves fed, and that we all have a roof over our heads, for the most part. These things are just a part of our condition nowadays, but I would challenge you to determine how mindful of things you truly are, and seek to pay more attention to the things you regularly pass over.
Food for thought;
Jobs, hobbies, educational pursuits
Do we do our jobs with gusto or enthusiasm or are we unmotivated? If we're unmotivated then we may want to explore the possibility of making a change. The same goes for our classes and majors. Ask yourself "do I hate what I'm studying?" If so, this area might require some attention.
Our relationships with each other
Are there people in my life that I'm taking for granted? If not, are there relationships that I expect to just work that might not be going quite so swimmingly? Odd are we're okay with the people we relate to unless we are constantly fighting. We might consider some times in the recent past that we may not have been the best to our friends, etc.
Food and shelter.
Of course we eat, but do we eat well? Will the way we are eating now make future us happy? Even though we have a roof over our heads but do we maintain this home? Is it cluttered? Do we simply discard our things at the end of the day without thinking that tomorrow's us will have to pick it up?
Remember when you were a kid and your mom would tell you to eat your veggies? Oh the torture of having to eat all of those nasty, green things before you could get to the good stuff. Oddly enough, down the road not a lot has changed. Well, for some people it hasn't.
Vegetables and leaves are one of the keys to a healthy life that most of us lack. If we added the green stuff to our diet, more than likely most of us would be, feel, and look much better. Yet a lot of people struggle with getting their vegetables in and a lot of that has to do with their taste. Here is how I, now a full blown vegetarian, went from hating veggies to loving them.
Why we hate those little green things
Ideally we will be mindful when we eat our food. We will endeavor to experience each bite as a new experience. In doing so we can get great satisfaction from our meal and cultivate an appreciation for the finer points of our food. Being mindful about our food can help us to really savor the flavors, but what if you just can't stand the food no matter how good it is for you?
We're hard wired to seek out energy-dense foods. Fats and sugars make for prime calories in the wild, so we're naturally inclined to like the way they taste. Veggies and leaves are two of the things that are all star at rounding out our nutritional bouquet. But unlike meats, which have fat in them and are thus immediately delicious, veggies and leaves have cellulose. Cellulose is hard for most of us to enjoy without first learning to like it, and so when given the choice between greens and meats, we go with the meats. Couple that with the fact that a lot of veggies are low in the sugars that makes fruit so good, and you have a food that isn't all that appetizing, especially raw.
I have read about the importance of being mindful, living a mindful life and being mindful of what you do and why you do it. I never really let it sink in or do much about that advice but I plan of incorporating it into my daily life.
What changes might take place if we were all mindful of why we are agitated, sad, biased? Could your health be improved if you were to pay attention to the foods you eat and how they make you feel, energized or sluggish? Same goes for activities, how do you feel after an evening in front of the TV or online, and compare that to reading a book or exercising. One of my goals this year is to keep a journal of foods and how they make me feel as well as activities and people I spend time with. I wanted to record what makes me feel good and what does not. Why record it you ask? You would think at a little over mid life I would know the answers to what makes me tick, what makes me happy already. But I don't, (well I do know some of it) so that means if I really want to know I need to step it up and record it and take a look back over the journal every month end and try to pick out a pattern of foods or activities and incorporate or remove things from my life.
I often wonder if I am in the correct career, maybe there is something out there that would make me more fulfilled and ultimately happier opposed to selling insurance (nothing wrong with this, it is necessary fact of life, that I do enjoy for the most part) and filling a quota for the year. Practicing mindfulness I believe would be a huge first step in uncovering more health and happiness.
We only get one spin around this globe so why not make it an amazing experience!