- Nancy Anne Vincent
THE YEAR OF MINDFULNESS
Updated: Jan 9
I never really knew what it meant to be mindful. It's not a word that people use often, and I can see why people don't use it much because being mindful is something that takes practice. The word mindfulness is said to be the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we are doing and not being overly reactive or overwhelmed by what's going on around us. Somebody once told me that when things change inside you, they also change around you. I really sat on that saying for awhile and thought about what that truly meant, and I encourage you to do the same. At my desk at home in Raleigh, I have a sticky note on my mirror that says Praying for someone who hurt you does not change them, but it always changes you. The two sayings go hand-in-hand in my mind. So when I think of the best ways I can be mindful, I know I need to become aware of other peoples feelings, and my feelings in relation to others. There are so many things that are out of our control. This past year I have been working and working to make a plan for myself and if I don't do exactly that then I feel like there is no balance and my life is fully anchored in one direction. But I learned to start living and being mindful by simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different. I will be honest, I have wished for many things to go differently this year. Whenever something wouldn't go the way I had hoped, or the person didn't give me the response I wanted or a friendship wasn't reciprocated the same, I would just sit and wonder what I was doing wrong. Just like any other human, I would end up confused, upset and anxious and would always ask, why? Part of being mindful is being aware that everyones emotions are separate from your own. You don't handle things the way that other people do or you may over react or not react at all, and that is okay. Knowing things that are in your control changes the way you treat the people around you. Things that are in your own control could be your boundaries, thoughts, actions, your words, opinions, what you say and things like what you do and your self care. All things that YOU decide. My therapist back home always told me that there is a checklist you can look at to see if you are being mindful. I dislike the word "checklist" it makes me think that if I am doing something different than what's listed, I am failing. But, I will tell you, that is not the case. The list I am about to share is not meant to be something you check off but it is meant to be something that helps you become more aware of yourself. Because self-awareness will lead you to be mindful of others and their feelings.
Here are 10 things mindful people do differently -
They don't believe their negative thoughts. If you don't know them personally, don't take it personally.
They don't try to avoid or deny emotions.
They understand that all things come and go.
They are fully present when listening without trying to control or judge.
They laugh at themselves. (In a good way)
They nourish their bodies.
They practice being curious.
They do one thing at a time.
They are empathetic of how people feel. Meaning they attempt to put themselves in other peoples shoes.
They understand that everything can be changed, and nothing is permanent.
The start of my second semester of college starts this upcoming week, and to say I am just nervous is an understatement. I am anxious and nervous for a new start. And I know, it's not like it's the beginning of the school year kind of start, but I always tell myself whenever there is a chance for a new beginning, I need to take advantage of it. My first semester was hard, it was hard to adjust and meet people and really feel like I am somebody within an already small community. But part of being mindful is knowing that everyone else has the eagerness to find themselves too. So instead of using college to try an "find your true self" (which sounds so cheesy) I am going to take this new beginning to remind myself that there will be hard days, really hard days. But there will always be better days coming. I really encourage for those of you who had a hard season, semester, or even 2022, to think of January and the start of the new semester to be a time where you set goals and be aware of your emotions. I am practicing the rule of "instead of saying..." "say this...". Meaning, instead of saying "this isn't working out for me", say "making mistakes is the only way to learn about myself" or maybe those moments when you feel you are giving up think to yourself there is always a different way.