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Mindful Living

Updated: Mar 16, 2022

Mindful living is about living with awareness in the present moment. It involves being conscious of the world we live in and the impact of our daily decisions on ourselves, our families, society, and the environment. Choosing to live a mindful life is an active decision. It is a conscious effort to disconnect ourselves from the “rat race” and take the time (and mental energy) to identify our values and then align our choices to prioritize those values. It combines seemingly tiny changes in our daily lives to add up to significant changes in our lifestyle over time.

One of the most noticeable factors when you start living more mindfully, is a change in consumption habits. As soon as you begin to practice mindful living, you will be more aware of how and with who you are spending your time, what you eat, what you consider essential and how it affects your overall health and well-being. You may start to shift away from the material consumption of goods and choose to consume more moments and life experiences instead.

10 Ways to Practice Mindful Living

1. Practice Cognitive Diffusion

Cognitive diffusion means to view a thought for what it is instead of giving your thoughts too much weight. Your mind has the unique ability to create inner dialogue, solve problems, remember past experiences and plan for the future. These abilities enable you to endure and even thrive in the face of life’s many challenges and threats to survival.

Unfortunately, your mind is also prone to many unhelpful thought patterns, such as excessive worry about the future and rumination (i.e., stewing over the past). These unhelpful thoughts can lead to emotional suffering and interfere with planning, decision-making, and effective action. You might, for instance, criticize yourself over past mistakes. However, frequent self-criticism is likely to lead to rumination, depression, and unhelpful coping behaviors like emotional eating, substance use, and excessive risk avoidance due to fear of failure or rejection.

Cognitive diffusion can help by lessening the influence of unhelpful thoughts on our feelings and actions, as we learn to view thoughts as just thoughts (rather than facts or reality). This creates an opportunity to choose your responses mindfully and purposefully based on your core values and what is likely to be best for your future.

It’s important to understand that cognitive diffusion is not about getting rid of, controlling, or changing your thoughts. It’s about noticing your thoughts as they arise and seeing them for what they are. The next time you find yourself caught in a “thinking trap,” try treating your thoughts as background noise and continue to focus on whatever you are doing.

2. Remember your Values

In stressful circumstances, such as living through a pandemic, it is common to lose touch with your core values while coping with current hardships. Unfortunately, disconnecting from your values usually leads to more stress and unhealthy lifestyle habits that only offer temporary relief. Things like being sedentary and Netflix binges, emotional eating, substance use, and social isolation create a trap that you feel you can not escape from. If you find yourself falling into this trap, it can be helpful to clarify and reflect on your values, as you might discover new ways to live a rich and meaningful life while still dealing with stressful life events.

First, it is important to clarify what areas of life are most important to you. Is it your family, work, religion, self-care education, community, or the environment? Once you have established what you value the most, try to positively enforce those areas by being more caring, disciplined, supportive, fun-loving, patient, persistent, courageous, knowledgeable, and generous. In most cases, when you decide to live more mindfully, you will find that your values will include spending time with friends and family and enjoying the outdoors while focusing less on the consumption of material possessions.

3. Focus on your eating habits

To live mindfully, you need to be aware of the food you are putting into your body. And that means you will have to invest in cooking healthy homemade meals regularly (1). Stress