The greatest life lessons learned in life have been through my dogs. Dogs are natural leaders, healers, and friends. Without words, judgment, or criticism, and instead with a simple look, they know exactly how to communicate the important things in life.
Greatest of Life Lessons Learned
One of the greatest life lessons learned from my dogs is indulging in the present moment, or in other words, being mindful.
Dogs understand how to live in the present moment. They know how to dig in and really grasp the here and now. If we can learn how to be more mindful, we can learn how to live a better life. We can also learn how to stay calm, centered and attentive to the present moment. What do mindful people do on a daily basis to make the most out of life?
Life Lessons Learned
Mindful people take walks.
Getting in touch with nature can help rejuvenate and clear your mind of clutter. Stepping outside the door and opening up your stride enables you to get the endorphins flowing. This can help you solve problems by seeing the world in a new view.
There’s something about getting away from the staleness of the indoors that freshens the soul and also makes exercise more fun. Great things happen when your heart starts pumping and energy starts flowing through your body.
Mindful people turn daily tasks into mindful moments.
I recently interviewed a faculty member from the university where I work for a video I was producing on creativity. He spoke about the importance of not dismissing ordinary tasks as a waste of time. Rather, use these moments to heal your restless, overly stressed minds.
So, when washing the dishes, don’t rush through the process. Allow the senses to fully grasp the smell of the soap, the softness of the suds, the flow of the water as it clears a path down the side of a glass. In doing so, you allow your brain a chance to catch up with itself and relax. When relaxed, creativity sparks.
Mindful people create.
As a writer, I sometimes, well actually, I oftentimes, find myself at a loss for words. I sit before a blank computer screen and panic when thoughts fail to bring something definitive, important, or insightful to mind. I become easily distracted by the wind, the television, and the lure of checking in on social media.
When my mind is cluttered this way, the best thing I’ve found to do is to walk away from the writing and embark on something different. I often choose video work, photography or oil painting. During those creative moments when I’m turning my attention to other things, ideas suddenly plant themselves in my brain. So, when I return to my writing, the ideas flow better.
Mindful people pay attention to their breathing.
When you struggle to find your place in this world – you know those moments when endless thoughts bombard you, undone items on your to-do list haunt you, you become dizzy from all the things that concern you – take a time out and breathe. Take a full concentrated breath deep into your lungs and let it marinate for a few thoughtful seconds before releasing it. Picture that breath cleansing you and washing away all the worries. When you release it, fully release it. Let it all out. Allow all the worries, anxieties, undone items to flow out. Exhale them so they no longer reside inside. Keep doing this for about ten breaths and you’ll feel grounded. As a result, you’ll be more connected to the present moment where you are in control.
Mindful people don’t multitask.
Like most people, I’ve got a demanding schedule. I have about twenty tasks staring at me at any given moment. This oftentimes makes me feel I need to tackle a few of them simultaneously to be able to accomplish getting them done. But honestly, all that does is creates havoc. Each task is done half-ass. I never fully inject the tasks with loving attention because I’m spreading myself too thin.
So, I started being more mindful by working really hard on one task at a time for a given period of time. For me that magic number is thirty minutes. I give everything to that task in that time and then I break for ten minutes. Then, I continue to do this during work hours and the result has been incredible. Essentially, I get more done and I get it done better than when I used to multitask. By focusing on one thing at a time, you’ll likely enjoy it better, take more pride in it, and get it done quicker.
Mindful people allow themselves to feel emotions.
This is an important life lesson learned. Too often we hear people say things like avoid negative emotions, always be positive. I think that’s poor advice and sets us up for failure. I don’t advocate sitting endlessly in the company of negativity. What I do advocate is allowing yourself to feel an emotion when it arises and then let it go in a healthy amount of time. What is healthy? That’s up to an individual and circumstance. There’s a process to grief for a reason. One can’t simply jump from suffering a deep loss to smiles and laughter. It takes time and steps to get there.
If you skip those steps, you risk never fully allowing yourself to heal. One should never feel guilty for taking time to experience emotions. In fact, I would argue one might feel more guilt in the long term for not experiencing them. When I’ve suffered loss in my life, what helped me get through was allowing myself time throughout the day to grieve. At times, I’d allow myself to cry, get angry, feel whatever the emotion at the time for five-minute periods. Then, I committed to wiping away the tears or anger after those five minutes and continuing on.
Everyone’s different in their needs, but where we aren’t different is in the reality that emotions are there to help us. They can’t be ignored or dulled. Emotions are real and need to be felt and dealt with.
Lastly, mindful people are conscious of what they put in their bodies — and their minds.
Here’s one of the life lessons learned worthy of much attention: When I fill my body with crappy food, too much wine, or negative news from television and other people’s drama, I feel terrible. I can’t focus. I have no patience. My clothes tighten and restrict my movement. I feel rundown. The list of consequences is endless.
To feel your best, you need to fuel your body and mind with good stuff, nutrients that support your well-being, information that is beneficial and life affirming. Like with a car, when you supply the engine with quality oil, you’re going to get a more quality-filled ride. Your mind and body need quality nutrients and input to thrive. When you have moments where you aren’t feeling your best, stop and analyze what you’ve been feeding yourself. The solution is usually right there for us to see, plain as day.
In summary of my life lessons learned…
So in closing, if my dog, Bumblebee, could speak, she’d tell me to put down my cellphone, turn off the television, grab a leash and walk out the front door on a nice deep rejuvenating breath. So friends, here’s to living in the here and now and always keeping your finger on the pulse of one of life’s greatest gifts, mindfulness.
Over to you, what other ways do you practice to be more mindful?