7 Ways to Be More Mindful Every Day
The other day my husband asked me, “What did you do today?” And I realized…I honestly couldn’t remember. I couldn’t remember if I’d gone somewhere with the kids, what I ate for lunch, any of the conversations I’d had.
I felt so cluttered in my mind. I was constantly distracted and never really present.
And it made me wonder, fifty years from now, will a bunch of mindless days add up to a mindless life that I can hardly remember because I wasn’t even present for it? I've been on a journey ever since (and it is a journey) to reclaim my attention, engage with my life, and be present for my family. And I want you to join me!
Here are 7 principles for living mindfully and a challenge that you can put to practice right away:
1. Conquer Your Phone
The amount of times we pick up our phones in a day is mind numbing. Some research studies are showing we're touching our phones about 300 times a day.
That's 300 times a day that our minds are on something else besides the present moment.
Will my kids see me looking down at my phone more than looking them in the eyes?
It's more important than ever to make this tool something that we use, not something that uses us. And there is a very practical way to do this.
Challenge #1: Take your phone and put it on do not disturb mode, plug it into the charger upstairs or far from your main living spaces. If you need to check it for important messages, decide what time exactly you are going to look at your phone and write those time down. Then decide how long you will be on your phone and set a timer before you even pick it up.
2. Be Content in Your Season
If I catch myself zoning out in the middle of the day, I’m usually thinking about the future. I’m constantly looking forward to a new stage of life—an accomplishment, a vacation, a due date—and wishing it would hurry up and get here already.
We’re trying to speed our way through the seasons of life.
“I can’t wait until I get married."
“I can’t wait to have kids."
"I can’t wait until I change my LAST dirty diaper!!"
We’re going to blink and miss our lives because we’re always in a hurry to get somewhere else.
Challenge #2: Write down this Contentment Resolution from Priscilla Shirer and put it on your fridge. Say it OUT LOUD as many times a day as you need to: “I do solemnly resolve to embrace my current season of life and I will maximize my time in it. I will resist the urge to hurry through or circumvent any portion of my journey, but I will live with the spirit of contentment."
3. Train Your Focus Muscle
Does anyone else notice how brain fogged you get after scrolling Instagram for a couple minutes? The stream of pictures and words and messages is way too much for our brains to handle, it’s sensory overload.
Our Focus muscle (an actual thing in our brains) has become super wimpy.
We’re the ‘microwave’ generation and that means we’ve got to be more intentional than ever at strengthening that focus muscle so we can actually engage fully with our lives.
One of my favorite ways to do this is meditation, or a quiet time. For super active busy bodies like me who are just beginning a meditation practice, try a mindfulness walk.
Challenge #3: Go for a walk outside by yourself—no phone. Strengthen your focus muscle by first tuning into your own breath and then spreading that awareness to what’s happening around you — start noticing nature or buildings or birds flying around. If you catch your mind wandering, just gently bring your focus back to the present. Give yourself this time to breathe.
4. Fix Your Face
What is your face doing right now? Like as you read this? I guarantee you are scowling right now or at best staring emotionlessly at your screen.
Did you know there’s a scientific link between what our faces are doing and what emotions we’re feeling?
Legit scientific studies have been done to show "Acting happy, regardless of feelings, coaxes one’s brain into processing positive emotions.”
Simply smiling might be the lift you need to get out of that distracted, overwhelmed funk and tune into the present with joy.
Challenge #4: Set your timer to ring at the start of every new hour. When it goes off — you guessed it — it’s time to smile! Ear from ear with all the enthusiasm you can muster! (If in public you may want to pretend you are talking on the phone to appear less insane). If you’re slumped over, try standing up straight and even “star fishing” putting you hands up into the air. Feel the difference?
5. Wake Up Earlier (Or Even Before the Kids)
“Mom I want to watch tv!”
“More milk mama!”
“I want to go the park!”
It’s so easy to get caught up in the overwhelm and feel like the day is lost before 10am rolls around!
But something that’s helped me be more mindful in those moments is to have some quiet time before the kids wake up. I know easier said than done, but even five minutes of being awake before my kids helps!
Take that time to set your intentions for the day, have your devotion time with God, and get filled up to pour out.
CHALLENGE #5: Wake up before the kids are awake if possible! Write down the fruit of the spirit - Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Gentleness, Faithfulness, Goodness, and Self Control. Say out loud “I am filled with love, I am filled with ______, etc”. Then imagine yourself engaging with your kids or your work or your friends exemplifying those traits. Pray for it!
6. Honor the Mundane Moments
We live for the big moments sometimes. The ones that stand out as special or important.
Milestones with our kids.
A successful quarter in our business.
A moment on the stage.
But 90% of our life is found in the mundane, in the normal, in the quiet.
It’s easy to think of that 90% as unimportant, but if we’re just waiting for those shiny moments, we’re going to miss out on the majority of our life.
The mundane, repetitive things can actually be where we find the most joy if we set our minds on it!
Let’s start honoring the dinner table conversations, the bed time routines, the folding of laundry as important so we can start living our lives in the present and stop waiting on the big moments to bring us fulfillment (cause spoiler alert, they won’t).
CHALLENGE #6: Start weaving prayer into every day tasks. When your washing the dishes, folding the laundry, or doing a household chore, take some deep breaths and bring that awareness into prayer. If you don’t know how to start, just pray for the person who wears that shirt or whoever ate off that plate. Start noticing any anxiety in your body and turn those worries into prayer. Make it a habit to turn repetitive chore time into prayer time and watch more peace and presence come into your life than before!
7. Conquer the Chaos of Your Calendar
What’s on your calendar?
How often does fear drive your calendars and commitments?
How about the pride of doing all the things and being the busiest?
We see other people starting a side hustle and we feel like that’s the only way to be living our best life so we jump on it. We don’t want to fail people so we say yes to everything they ask. We’re afraid our kids won’t turn out right unless we give them every type of experience under the sun.
But it’s not always the right season to start a side hustle.
You shouldn’t always say yes to a request, your kids need time with you more than any of those activities.
Listen, if you’re not finding peace in your season of life, if things are so busy you feel like one more thing might send you into a panic attack, give yourself permission to stop.
Give yourself permission to say no, cancel a meeting, have your kid sit out of a soccer game.
Seriously, nothing is worth your peace of mind.
CHALLENGE #7: Have an hour long meeting with yourself. Start with two pieces of paper, on one side right down every single one of your commitments. On the other side create three columns: good/better/best. Put each commitment into one of these columns based on what you feel you’re called to do in this season. Now, take a deep breath and decide which items from the good or better column you're going to get rid of ASAP.
To recap, living a more mindful day is possible with these steps:
Conquer Your Phone
Be Content in Your Season
Train Your Focus Muscle
Fix Your Face
Wake Up Earlier
Honor the Mundane Moments
Conquer the Chaos of Your Calendar
I hope these principles and challenges refuel you to live mindfully so that you can be present for your family and start truly enjoying the moments. It’s possible to not live hurried and stressed out, let’s fight for it every day!
If you're ready to add a bit more structure to your days to cut down on decision fatigue, check out this article for more info on how to create a daily rhythm!
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