It is not happy people who are thankful, it is thankful people who are happy.
What is mindfulness?
Live in the moment. Pay attention. Relax and slow down.
We hear these messages all the time now and they can easily become background noise while school, friends and family life take priority. What these statements all have in common is that what they’re really asking you to do is practice mindfulness.
But what is it? When you get right down to it, mindfulness is simply the act of paying attention to the current moment without judgement. Think of it as observing what’s happening around you without thinking good or bad thoughts about it.
The truth is being mindful might sound boring or easy or just not relevant to you, but how often do you think about the past or worry about the future? Which usually ends with you becoming stressed out and not sure how to feel better. This is where mindfulness can help, by offering a way for you to stop and give yourself mental space.
And you might be surprised at the people who find mindfulness an important tool in their happiness and success. It’s how Kevin Durant could make a clutch three point shot for the Cleveland Warriors in the 2018 NBA Finals – staying in the moment. Or how mixed martial arts fighters remain calm in the middle of a match – practising mindful breathing techniques. Mountain climber Alex Honnold, who free-climbed the famous El Capitan summit, talks about the importance of living with intention to achieve your goals.
How can you get started?
Luckily, you don’t need to climb a mountain to practice mindfulness. From laughing with your friends to listening in class, playing your favourite video game, skateboarding or surfing, even when you eat lunch, you can bring your attention to the present moment. Without judgement. Without second-guessing yourself. Only curiosity and clarity.
So how can you get started? Try a small everyday activity. Next time you go to school, whether it’s on a bus, train, or in the car, pay attention to what’s happening outside your window instead of reading, playing games, or scrolling through social media. Take a moment to think about whether your neck feels stiff, take some three deep breaths, and relax your shoulders.
This sort of awareness is what mindfulness is all about; small moments where distractions are put away and you exist wholly in the present moment.