Mindful people don’t waste time obsessing with a future that they cannot predict. They shift their focus to the present moment, because that’s where progress happens. Check out these things mindful people do differently for less stress and more success.

1. They listen.

Mindful people are masters of awareness, an art that escapes many people. They engage eye contact with people when they speak. They enjoy the music of birds chirping while they enjoy their morning coffee. They enter conversations only when they have something valuable to say.

2. They day-dream.

Concentration is a good skill to have, but it becomes even more powerful when combined with imagination. It can be hard to stay interested in a complex project like writing a book. Mindful people let their thoughts drift to how happy and accomplished they will feel when it is complete, which reminds them that it is worth the effort.

3. They go outside.

It is not healthy to spend every moment of your day chained to a desk in a zombie-like state, without any opportunity to escape. Mountains are meant to be climbed. Rivers are meant to be canoed. All of the wilderness in this world is a playground that is meant to be explored.

4. They take breaks.

If you’re a student, you’ve probably noticed that your ability to focus on studying diminishes more and more with every passing moment. Mindful people take mini-breaks every hour or so, because they know the brain can only concentrate for so long before it needs a reboot. There is nothing productive about forcing yourself to work beyond that breaking point.

5. They pause to reflect.

How do you think you will ever accomplish your purpose without pausing to consider your place in the world? Keeping a journal will help you make sense of the feelings swirling inside you. You will also identify toxic influences in your environment that need to be addressed.

6. They laugh at themselves.

I went to a Pilates class last week. We performed a balance pose with feet stretched over our heads. Lost my balance. Turned an accidental back flip. Made a big THUD! Everyone stared at me. Instructor asked, “Are you okay?” I turned what could have been an embarrassing situation into a comedic moment by replying, “Yep, just got carried away with the momentum there!” Everyone laughed. Class continued. No big deal. Little things like this aren’t worth worrying about.

7. They nourish their bodies.

Eating shouldn’t be viewed as an act of deprivation. Instead, see it as an opportunity to nourish your body with healthy foods that will make you feel positively alive. Mindful people pay attention to how different foods influence their body and mood. If it causes an upset stomach or wrecks your energy, then you probably shouldn’t be eating it.

8. They express their feelings.

The longer you bury an emotion, the more intense it will become. Putting up barriers can temporarily prevent difficult conversations. But hiding the truth for too long could cause permanent damage to trust in your relationships. Speak your mind without filter. If a person can’t handle the real you, then they don’t deserve you.

9. They look people in the eye.

Mindful people don’t make a habit of staring at their cellphones during a conversation. Not only is this inconsiderate, but it could also cause them to miss important nonverbal cues that reveal how genuine a person is being. If their physical presence is at odds with what they say, then they might be hiding something.

10. They know when to be quiet.

Silence is nothing to fear. Admiring a glorious sunset while listening to waves crash on the beach. Comforting a friend with a simple hug during a terrible struggle. Listening to your partner’s heartbeat while you enjoy a lazy Sunday morning in bed. These beautiful moments would be hindered, not helped, by a compulsion to fill the air with meaningless words.

11. They tap into their creativity.

A life without art isn’t a life worth living. You don’t have to be a Beethoven, Michelangelo, or Shakespeare. All it takes is an open mind, positive attitude, and honest expression. Act. Cook. Dance. Paint. Sing. Write. All creation, no matter the method, will challenge you to grow into a stronger person.

12. They embrace opportunities.

Zig Ziglar once said, “If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.” Mindful people don’t pursue comfort, because they know this road inevitably leads to complacency. If you can’t remember the last time you fell short, then you’re probably not aiming high enough.

13. They focus on what they’re doing.

Most people stumble through life like a drunkard, without any awareness of their surroundings. Driving to work with no recollection of the trip. Eating a food while paying no attention to their body’s signals that it has had enough. Performing a task in the midst of distractions that cause them to make inexcusable errors. Mindful people do one thing at a time.

14. They challenge their preexisting beliefs.

Opinions worth having should hold up to scrutiny. Only an arrogant person would be unwilling to consider the other side of an issue. Engaging in a thoughtful debate probably won’t change your mind, but it will introduce you to new ideas that grow your perspective.

15. They only dwell on encouraging thoughts.

Mindful people let thoughts drift in their consciousness without any judgment attached. They travel through this mental chatter with the caution of a soldier walking through a battlefield covered in landmines, carefully identifying the thoughts that empower them and discarding the rest.

Featured photo credit: From A to B/Chris Frank via flickr.com

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