Being mindful is so often more easily said than done. But some of the most Zen, thoughtful, meditative, and with-it people I know seem to have conscious practices and efforts to be mindful. Ironically, many of them tell me that letting go is one of the best things you can do to promote great mental health and well-being. Here are seven shared traits of the most mindful people I know.
1. To create change, they think differently.
Thinking the same way produces the same results. Thinking and doing the same thing will never get a different result. Not changing held beliefs and thought systems is a classic people-pleaser habit. As Albert Einstein once said, “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” Create a new thought today about something that needs changing in your life by writing out what you want to change and watch it begin to unfold.
2. They understand the power of habit.
The mind does exactly what you tell it. If you've ever started the day with a thought like, “Today sucks!” the mind has the power to ride out the “life sucks” program. It goes on autopilot without much thought or attention, but you have the power to break it down. Think: Today can still be a great day! With time and practice, your mind will get good at searching for and following the “today is a great day!” program. As Banksy said, “Your mind is working at its best when you're being paranoid. You explore every avenue and possibility of your situation at high speed with total clarity.” Being overwhelmed is underrated. Let your mind wander and try on a new way of being.
3. They use visualization as a tool for focus.
The mind stores all our thoughts, feelings, and emotions in some format. For most of us, it's in pictures. If you had to describe the best day you've ever experienced, the first thing that comes to mind is likely the picture, then the feeling, then the nuance. As Leroy Hood said, “If you just focus on the smallest details, you never get the big picture right.” Make your next daydream a masterpiece. Color it in with all the beautiful detail that fills your heart with joy. Use visualization. You never know what you can manifest when you lay the foundation in your mind.
4. They love to get their minds blown.
Every wondered where habits come from? Repeat, repeat, repeat. Ever wondered how to change a habit? Repeat, repeat, repeat. What we think we become. Our most dominant thought is our most dominant action. Change the thought, change the action. As Edward de Bono said, “If you never change your mind, why have one?” It can be a trying mental task, but it's so simple.
5. They harness the power of positive thinking.
Don’t let it in! Letting in negative thoughts creates negative action. If someone says something negative, ask them to repeat it. Say, “I am sorry I didn’t quite catch that. Could you repeat it please?” Chances are they are unlikely to repeat it, because in the moment they were trying to belittle you. The moment has now passed, so don’t let it destroy you! As Robert H. Schuller said, “It takes but one positive thought when given a chance to survive and thrive to overpower an entire army of negative thoughts.” Don’t go into battle when there is no war to be won.
6. They understand that perception is reality.
The truth is what is. Right and wrong are simply value-based judgments. Who decided on them? You did! Science did. Politics did. The mind believes what it's told, and what you tell it. If you told it long enough the sky was green, in the mind the sky becomes green. For example, if you focus on being grateful, not on being right, you live a grateful life. As Brene Brown said, “I don't have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness—it's right in front of me if I'm paying attention and practicing gratitude.”
7. They keep their minds open to new experiences.
Changing someone else’s mind is nearly impossible. Have you ever tried it, only to find you are in deep conflict and you have lost your own mind in the process? If we are hell-bent on being right and persuading others to believe our views, it's common to feel confused and lose your purpose in the process. The way to be more mindful in this scenario is by opening up to another perspective. You may find something out about yourself you didn’t know by walking two miles in the other person's shoes. As Terry Pratchett said, “The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.” Your job is to keep your mind open enough to allow new perspectives in while making sure you're making the final decision.