Some habits work for us, some work against us. You might have a habit of going to the gym each morning – or of flossing your teeth each night. Those habits work for you. You might also have a habit of losing your cool when in traffic, or of isolating yourself when you are feeling blue. Those habits might be working against you and your best interests.
You can – mindfully – develop new habits throughout your life. If you aren’t sure about that, check out Daniel Pink’s article ‘The Power of Habits – and the Power to Change them.”
Mindfulness can become one of the healthiest habits you develop in your life. It’s nourishment for your mental health.
While the technique is not difficult, developing the habit can seem challenging. It’s called a ‘practice’ of mindfulness, and that’s exactly what’s required to develop this wonderful, life-changing habit. And, it’s a habit that we need to develop today, more than ever.
There is more and more pressure today to do more. Workloads are overwhelming and expectations are high. The paradox of mindfulness is: “not doing” is exactly what you need to do – in order to do more! (And, to be healthier, happier, more engaged, etc.)
In his article “Why We Need to Teach Mindfulness in a Digital Age”, Aran Levasseur, says “Research at Duke University found that more than 40 percent of our actions are based on habits, not conscious decisions. Unconscious habits and assumptions aren’t destiny, but if we don’t bring them into focus then the force of these habits will continue to chart our course. The practice of mindfulness is a time-tested antidote to operating in autopilot.”
Recent brain imaging studies reveal that sections of our brains are highly active during down time (i.e. when you are mindful). This has led scientists to imply that moments of not-doing are critical for connecting and synthesizing new information, ideas and experiences. Dr. Michael Rich, a professor at Harvard Medical School put it this way in a 2010 New York Times article: “Downtime is to the brain what sleep is to the body.”
Jon Kabat-Zinn is the pioneer of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. Check out this video to learn a bit more about him and about mindfulness. It’s a longer one (over an hour). If you a looking for something shorter, there are several videos on Youtube and audio files on itunes. Find the one that works for you.
So, how much ‘down time’ do you have in your life? It doesn’t take much – even a minute or two - and you can begin to notice a difference in how your think, feel and behave. Make it a habit!
Deri Latimer, B Mgt, CSP, is an expert in positive possibilities for people! She is one of fewer than 10% of speakers globally who hold the designation of Certified Speaking Professional. Deri combines a Business degree in Human Resources with experience from business sectors including health care, manufacturing, education, agriculture, government, mining, transportation, tourism, and professional services. Deri provides practical strategies for mental health ‘at work’; impacting individuals and organizations to increase resilience to change, energize engagement with the organization, and propel meaningful performance results that last! www.derilatimer.com