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Last Updated on January 6, 2020

20 Simple Things You Can Do Daily To Become a Mindful Person

20 Simple Things You Can Do Daily To Become a Mindful Person

The world we are living in today has taken away our ability to truly appreciate the little things that we should be thankful for. Mindfulness helps us see the little things that we have unconsciously neglected due to the hectic daily routines and busy schedule in our lives. Being mindful not only helps us become a calmer individual, but also saves us from a lot of trouble. It helps us be more productive without making the unnecessary errors. Often, we make bad decisions or mistakes because we weren’t mindful enough to notice the subtle things that are happening around us. However, if we practice mindfulness, we will gradually become more aware of the things that are happening around us. We also better understand our own emotions and our physical state, which lead us to a healthier and happier life.

Here are 20 simple things you can do every day to become a more mindful person:

1. Observe your breathing.

Take a few second of your day to observe your breathing. Take a longer inhale than you usually do, and then take a longer exhale than you usually do. We often act based on our emotions, where it gets us into unwanted outcome. This practice will help you to calm yourself down during those situations, while observing your physical and emotional state.

2. Look at yourself in the mirror.

Looking yourself in the mirror helps you observe your own facial expression. You can see how you look when you smile or when you frown, even when you are feeling angry. This will help you better adjust to your reaction towards others when you are dealing with them.

3. Savor every bite while you eat.

Focus on chewing while eating. Put your devices aside, and turn off the television. Enjoy every bite of your meal. This will not only help with your digestive system, but also help you practice focusing on your current action and appreciating the food you are eating.

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4. Listen to soothing music.

Turn on relaxing and soothing melody and really listen to it. Lay down or sit in the most comfortable position, close your eyes and feel the music in your soul. Soothing melody will help you clear your mind and thoughts after a busy or stressful day.

5. Read a book.

Reading takes a lot of your focus. Reading not only gives you useful knowledge, but also helps you form a focused meditation. While you are going through every word, you are practicing mindfulness at the same time.

6. Go for a walk.

Our legs are our unsung heroes that take us to and fro, day in and day out, throughout our lives. Going for a walk gives you the opportunity to show gratitude to your legs as well as your entire body, while appreciating the things around you. You also get a clearer mind after a good long walk.

7. Organize something at work or home.

Having your home or workplace in disarray can cause anxiety and stress. Getting organized is a simple way to reduce your stress and improve the quality of your life. While you are picking up bits and pieces of objects during the process, you are also practicing mindfulness when you consciously observe each placement of the object while organizing them.

8. Write a journal.

Research shows that people who practice writing in a journal reap physical and emotional benefits. They also raise their potential to increase their longevity. Sharing your thoughts in your journal helps you reduce the amount of worry and depressive symptoms. You clarify your thoughts and emotions when you express them in writing, and that helps you better understand yourself at a deeper level.

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9. Cook yourself a meal.

The aromatic scents of cooking have beneficial effects to your mood. The process of cooking, like chopping vegetables; for example, can actually take the edge off a stressful day. Cooking gives you a sense of calmness while also providing an important health measure.

10. Set small daily goals.

Breaking down your goals into smaller ones helps you be more specific to what you aim to achieve on a daily basis. It can be as simple as taking your dog for a walk or cleaning up your house. Take the time to acknowledge yourself for each goal that has been accomplished, and for doing something meaningful for yourself.

11. Observe the people around you.

Taking the time to observe the people around you helps you notice things that seemed oblivious before. You get an idea of the variety of perspectives, raising your awareness by releasing the norms and values from different people. This also gives you an eye-opening experience, helping you better learn the quality of mindfulness.

12. Help someone.

Research suggests that human beings who live for others lead incredibly successful lives, and show lower rates of depression and stress. A simple gesture like helping your family with chores or helping an elderly cross the road can do wonders. By doing someone a small favor, you increase positive feelings toward yourself while making their life a little better. This gives you a mindful awareness of a purposeful life.

13. Let loose and laugh.

Laughing releases endorphins and brings more oxygen and energy into your body while also improving your immune system. Some of us may need the assistance of entertainment to laugh, but really you can find humor in every little thing in life. Just try laughing for the sake of laughing and you will realize that you are actually very present during the process. Being present is the key to mindfulness.

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14. Create art.

Engaging in creative work helps you get into a flow state of heightened awareness and consciousness. Creative activities like baking, doodling, or singing help you quiet down your mind and help you focus on the moment, thus improving your practice of mindfulness.

15. Turn off your devices.

Every once in a while, turn off your devices and engage with the natural world around you. Have a proper conversation with the people around you. This helps you put yourself under the right condition while you freshen up before proceeding with the endless task on your to-do list. You will find yourself much more productive after the simple break and refreshing yourself with this tip.

16. Meditate.

Enjoy the silence after the endless distraction from the people and things around you. Take the time to put down all the things that you are working on, sit down in a comfortable position, and observe your entire body. Focus on feeling each part of your body functioning while clearing away the stress that you obtain throughout the day.

17. Exercise.

When you exercise, you focus your attention on your sensations, breathing, and the movements of your body. This helps you let go of distractions and your endless thoughts while developing a healthy loving relationship with your body. You learn to listen to the needs of your body and to focus on current events.

18. Write sticky notes.

Jotting down your thoughts in a few words is an incredible way to train mindfulness. Simply write down things that you want to remind yourself to remember and stick them around your house or your desk at work. You can jot down “smile” or “be mindful” to remind yourself to do the simple gesture you normally get distracted from.

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19. Take a long bath.

A soothing hot bath relaxes your tired muscles and provides you with a relaxing atmosphere, allowing you the temporary feeling of escape from your daily activities. It helps your breathing become slower and deeper, allowing you to stay in the present moment.

20. Give a genuine compliment.

Give someone you know a genuine compliment at lease once a day, and be specific with it. For example, you could tell them something like, “I appreciate the way you smiled generously at that stranger earlier today”. This practice of noticing what people around you do well and giving genuine compliments adds new warmth, intimacy, and responsiveness to your relationship with them. It helps you realize the beauty of the people you love. You show  them appreciation when you take the time to truly observe them mindfully.

Featured photo credit: Aperture Vintage via unsplash.com

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Crystie Lim

Life Coach

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

What Makes People Poor Listeners?

Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

How To Be a Better Listener

For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

1. Pay Attention

A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

2. Use Positive Body Language

You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

According to Alan Gurney,[2]

“An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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Be polite and wait your turn!

4. Ask Questions

Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

5. Just Listen

This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

6. Remember and Follow Up

Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

  1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
  2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

8. Maintain Eye Contact

When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

Final Thoughts

Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
[2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
[3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
[4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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