Sunday, November 23, 2014

Happiness Project - October

Happiness Project - October - Pay Attention/Mindfulness

Mindfulness gives us many benefits to us as scientists point out - it calms the mind, elevates brain function, gives clarity and vividness to present experience, help break unhealthy habits, soothe troubles spirits, lifts people's moods, reduces stress and chronic pain, makes you  happier, less defensive and more engaged with others. This seems like a lot of benefits from just doing one thing. So I want to look into and refresh what Gretchen tells us about being mindful. I know I could benefit from these benefits. 

One of the most effective ways to practice mindfulness is through meditation. This is something that I will have to learn how to do better. Gretchen herself was not big on meditation so she uses other ways to be mindful. One of the things she does is uses her resolutions chart, a practice that has let her to act more mindfully through the review of her actions and thoughts. To me this sounds like a good idea and an easy way to remember to be mindful. 

Another way that Gretchen uses to be mindful is to meditate on koans. What does this mean you say, well I wondered the same thing so I will tell you what Gretchen says. A koan is a question or a statement that can't be understood logically. The most famous koan is "Two hands clap and there is a sound, What is the sound of one hand?" A koan can't be grasped by reason or explained in words: meditating on koans promotes mindful thinking because it's not possible to comprehend their meanng with familiar, conventional logic. I am still a little confused on this one so it will take some thinking on my part to figure this out.

Next we are told to examine true rules - True rules are rules you use to keep yourself from falling into mechanical thoughts and actions. You can make your own rules and use them for decision making. Here are a few rules that Gretchen uses:  my children are my most important priority, I know as much as most people, and whenever possible choose vegetables. One of her mother's true rules that I absolutely love and have to agree with is "The things that go wrong often make the best memories".Other examples of true rules are: always say hello, change is good, choose the bigger life, use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without and things have a way of turning out for the best. What are some true rules you would use? This is another I am going to have to think on.

Now Gretchen tells us to stimulate the mind in new ways - this one to me sounds like it could be fun. She says to use your brain in unfamiliar ways to enhance your experience of the present moment and awareness of yourself. One thing she did was to post sticky notes around her apartment to remind herself of the frame of mind she wanted to cultivated. This is a great idea, in fact I do have things on my desk and a few here at home that I read to remind me of how I want to be. Another thing that she did was to take up drawing, now for me I am not an artist but I do want to start to zentangle so I need to get started.

Lastly Gretchen suggested to start a food diary - Now this does not sound so hard to do, yes it make take a few minutes but it would be worth it to track how you are eating. I have to agree with her that when you track what you are eating your are more conscience about what goes in your mouth and will end up eating healthier. I had to do this for a couple of days for health reasons and I found myself really watching what I was eating. Now I just need to go back to that and maybe I will eat healthier.

I would love some thoughts on this months suggestions Gretchen gave us. 

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