Life has a way of both kicking you in the butt and giving you what you need all at the same time. Too often we choose to only see the kick while completely missing the gifts. This is part of the human condition. We are programmed to see the stressors as a way of avoiding them. It is survival of the fittest after all.
By nature we are programmed to react; but what happens when all of our base needs are met? If we do not need to react to the dangers of nature, can we override our natural instincts so that we respond instead of reacting?
How? The answer is
Choice, reasoning, intellect; these things set humans apart from animals. We have the ability to look back, to learn from success and mistakes. This attention to details along with the ability to reason allows us to take a step back and view the scenario with perspective.
Mindfulness teaches us how to be both the observer, the actor, and the writer in every given moment. It gives us choice. The choice to react or the choice to respond.
When we have been mindlessly walking through life reacting since birth, how do we instigate a change so that we can take control and be the writer of our own lives? Small steps, giant leaps, the breaking, or even just acknowledgement, of habits. Changes here and there: some small, some huge.
It all starts with attention. Introducing awareness into daily life. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction teaches us how to bring awareness to the body, mind and emotions in order to reduce stress. What I’m talking about is much simpler. Basic attention to minute details. Every day take one ordinary word and examine your reaction to it.
Let’s start with JOY
Reading that word did you wonder why you don’t experience it more often? Did it bring up resentment? Anger? Happiness? Did you think of one or more joy filled moments in your life? Did you smile? Frown? Did you have a bodily (physical) reaction such as stomach ache, or audible giggle?
There is no wrong answer. Every thought, every emotion is your own and right for you. My challenge to you is this:
Think about why you reacted the way you did. If it was a negative reaction can you flip it and see a positive side? The same holds true for positive reactions. Can you see the negative side? Then let them both go, because neither reaction serves you any purpose. How you choose to respond in the future is what actually matters.
If your reaction was negative to a positive word such as joy you now have the choice to open yourself to experiences of joy in the future. Mindfulness is not about telling us how to react but rather teaching us to go with the flow and live for the experience of life.
I will be doing a series of Mindful Contemplation posts on my Instagram account. Follow me @jenniheard if you would like to introduce a bit of mindfulness to your daily life.