How often do you find yourself turning on the TV to “see what’s on” and end up watching it for 3 hrs? Or aimlessly scroll through social media only to realize an hour has passed by? These habitual autopilot experiences may provide short term pleasure, but often distracts us from what’s happening in our own world. This kind of mindlessness may lead us to feeling bored, empty, and unsatisfied with our lives. On the contrary, it is the intentional moment-to-moment experiences that give us joy and fulfillment in our lives.
For the majority of our fast-paced and future-focused society, mindfulness is undervalued. Many of us have our eyes constantly on our phone, we forget to take in our surroundings, and may lose touch with our inner selves. I think it’s time we begin pursuing mindful moments, as these are the experiences that will fill our lives with pleasure and meaning.
I’m sure we can all agree that moments are plentiful in daily life. The potential for each moment is reflected in our thoughts, feelings, and other physiological forces. To add on, a single day can present upwards of 20,000 moments that are opportunities for engagement, for overcoming the negative, and for pursuing the positive. Take, for example, a toddler who plays outside. The typical child will bring attention to everything in vision and will happily share their thoughts of what is being experienced. When something is added to their surroundings (ex. a butterfly flying by), they shift their attention and experience it. By seeing that each moment in our lives has potential, we can learn to actively pursue a more mindful daily life.
A short excerpt from a research paper by Langer (2009), states:
“It is important to take at least a brief look at what mindfulness is and is not: It is a flexible state of mind – an openness to novelty, a process of actively drawing novel distinctions. When we are mindful, we become sensitive to context and perspective; we are situated in the present. When we are mindless, we are trapped in rigid mindsets, oblivious to context or perspective”
What if the next time you notice you are feeling bored, or start driving on autopilot, you take that as a nudge to search for novelty in the next few minutes? What if you seek out new experiences with people who are different from you? Practicing mindfulness may have benefits for your psychological and physical health, your academic or work performance, and your socio-cultural well-being. These searches may lead us to a greater appreciation for diversity and a deeper existence filled with meaning.