A Wandering Mind is an Unhappy Mind

For entrepreneurs that are always hustling, time to meditation is not an appealing concept. Some even think that meditation is a spiritual ritual that does not align with their believes. But the truth is some of the most successful people like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or Operah have integrated meditation as part of their routine.

In 2010 Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert published a study called “A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind” where they analysed about 5000 people with different occupations and ages.

 The results were shocking.

46.8% of people were not paying attention to what they were doing. They were thinking about something else. It could be something pleasant (42.5%), neutral (26.5%) or unpleasant (31%) but the results were almost the same.

If the mind is wandering, even if you’re having pleasant thoughts, you will not be happier than if you focused your mind at the task at hand. And if you had neutral or unpleasant thoughts, you will be considerably unhappier.

“A human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind.”

You can see the full study here.

The solution?

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the ability to live in the present moment, rather than dwelling on the past or trying to predict the future. 

In my opinion, we can not and should not live mindfully every single hour. I think it is important to think about past events. We all make mistakes, and we should use this as a learning opportunity. How can we do it better next time? 

It is equally important to think about the future, have a clear vision of our goals and strategise the next moves. Without a clear goal, we will be forever stuck.

But, there is a time for everything. There is a time to eat, a time to sleep, a time to think about whatever we feel like and a time to stop and focus on what we have to do in this exact moment.

Being mindful means having full attention, awareness and being present. It has several health benefits including:

  • Decreased stress, anxiety, depression and exhaustion.
  • Increased focus, cognitive ability, emotional intelligence and creativity.

In Buddhism, mindfulness it is considered the first path to enlightenment.

So how do we train to become mindful?

There are a few things you need to understand before starting, is that mindfulness is something to be practiced consistently for the rest of our lives. It is not something we could do for a few months, master it and then that’s it.

Practicing mindfulness is NOT to quiet the mind, instead you should be paying attention to one thing, your breath, the birds singing, the wind or even some music. I like to focus on my breath and do breath exercises.

Your mind will wander and your brain will try to take over. Random thoughts will come through your mind, that is perfectly normal. Whenever this happens, simply return your attention, refocus and continue. With practice you will get better and better.

How to Practice Mindfulness

  1. Find a good tame and place to practice were you won’t be distracted by external forces (kids, TV, Phone…)
  2. Find a good posture, make sure your back is straight. You don’t necessarily need to be seated with your legs crossed, find a position that’s good for you.
  3. Set a timer. You can start with as little as 5 or 10 minutes, as long as you keep practicing consistently, you will see results. Increase the time as you feel more comfortable.
  4. Focus on one thing. I like to focus on my breath and do breath exercises, but you can find focus in other things like music or the sound of the birds singing.
  5. Notice when your mind starts to wander and bring it back to focus. The mind is a muscle so it’s almost like doing a curl, when it goes down, you bring it back up.
  6. Don’t feel annoyed when it happens, it is perfectly normal. If you get distracted 20 times a session, eventually you will improve and reduce the number of times this happens.

That’s it, that’s how you practice being mindful.

“Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.”

Buddha

Now it’s time to actively do it during the day. Whenever you have to preform a task, stay focused. If you get distracted, just refocus and continue. You can even do it while driving (as everyone should), washing the dishes, eating, etc.

Here are other blog posts you might find interesting.

Thank you so much for reading, if you found this helpful share with a friend.

Now tell me…

What do you do to stay focused and productive?

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