Mindfulness has become a popular topic amongst those seeking to improve their mental health. As someone struggling with depression and anxiety, I found practicing mindfulness a helpful tool to ground myself in the current moment instead of letting my mind indulge in my worries, fears and uncomfortable memories while disregarding the life I am living now.
However, simply being in the moment does not necessary need to be a comfortable experience when one struggles with seeing everything from a negative perspective. Fortunately, I have found quite a fun approach to mindfulness that helped me challenge my habit of thinking negatively.
What is mindfulness again?
For the ones new to the term “mindfulness”: It’s the practice of turning off the autopilot so many of us go from day to day with, to become aware of how we are feeling, what we are thinking and what we are seeing and hearing in the moment. The aim is to consciously be in the moment. It’s a form of meditation – a form of introspection that can help us live life more consciously and gain a deeper insight into ourselves.
However, I found that there are actually many ways to be in the current moment. One moment might be looked at from many angles, perceived as negative or positive depending what you choose to focus on. While being in the moment without judgement and just observing whatever positive or negative thoughts and emotions occur has it’s own benefits, I like to switch up sometimes to combat my somewhat too negative mind sometimes. Let me give an example of where practicing mindful positivity makes sense:
Occasions to practice mindful positivity
In my opinion, the best occasion to practice mindful positivity is when you are somewhat passive, maybe in a slightly uncomfortable situation where your worries can get the best of you. Here is an example of a typical situation that is ideal for practicing mindfulness: While being on your way to something – work, a doctor’s appointment, home etc.
Confession time: Unlike most people, I hate summer and could on and on about the reasons why. Imagine you are sitting in the tram on a hot summer day: It’s crowded, it smells of sweat and people are shouting left and right. The sun is blinding you and the only drink you have with you has turned warm a long time ago. You can really live yourself into how uncomfortable you are and live the moment intensely, be mindful of it all. However, there might be more to that situation. Maybe you are wearing a really nice dress and you can really become mindful of how nice the fabric feels, what a beautiful pattern it has or admire your reflection in the window. Maybe you are passing a nice building that is just your style or a tree that is displaying the most gorgeous blossoms.
How to practice mindful positivity
Here is a step by step guide how to practice mind positivity:
1) Choose to make it a habit
Consciously decide to practice mindfulness. If you are on autopilot 100% of the time and there is the chance you’ll forget, set yourself an alarm on your phone for the time you know you will have the time to zone out a bit.
2) Snap out of it!
Once it’s time to turn off autopilot, become aware of your body, your surroundings and how your consciousness is observing the world around it. When practicing mindfulness in general, it is usually recommended to start by focusing on your breath. It’s a good way to ground yourself and become aware of being in your body.
3) Consciously connect with positivity
When you observe your surroundings, consciously search for and decide to focus on the things that bring you joy in some way – no matter how minor. It could be beautiful tree as mentioned above, a bird, a handsome guy, a child’s laughter or just something random that happens to spark a positive memory in your mind. Here is a little trick I use: I like to imagine myself being a character in an artsy French movie like “Amélie” or a really well written book sometimes. How would a gifted author describe the moment you are in positively? Try it, it’s fun!
I got the idea for practicing mindful positivity from my therapist last year and it has become something that made my daily life a bit more fun since. It’s empowering to me that you can actively chose to find beauty and positivity in almost any situation. I hope you give it a try and find it empowering yourself!