It's really easy to see the faults in your life and think, "yeah, I totally want to fix that." It’s a whole other thing to actually go in there and start fixing it. That's because changing a habit is hard, especially all the super unmindful habits that’ve grown out of the digital age. Sometimes we need a trick to help us stick to it.
Enter mindfulness cues
As each of us goes throughout our day, we can use reminders or triggers to remove distractions and the stress they create.
This is my new challenge to you: set aside a specific time every day to be mindful. Choose something you already do and turn it into a mindfulness cue.
Every day, sometimes multiple times a day, I charge my phone. What if I used that as a time for mindfulness? Instead of standing next to the charging area, continuing to tap away at Facebook, Instagram, or Gmail, what if I set the phone down and leave it alone? Instead of picking up my iPad as an alternative, what if I used that moment to breathe and be present?
Phone charging time is now my mindful time. It's a reminder to stop distracting myself with the wealth of mindless activities our over-connected world has to offer and start living in the real world, the here and now.
When it’s time to recharge my phone, it’s also time to recharge my mind.
And I'm posting this here publicly so my friends can keep me honest. Letting other people know you're trying to change a habit helps you stick to it, because they can give you shit when you start to waiver. Never underestimate the power of a healthy guilt trip.
So choose something that works for you. When you use the bathroom, leave the iPad on the counter. When you eat breakfast in the morning, close the laptop lid. When you have lunch at work, don't have it at your desk. When you're waiting for a friend to arrive at dinner, look around you instead of at your phone. There are a million different moments in your life that could act as a mindfulness cues. The possibilities are endless.
It's so easy to forget, but every moment of every day is chance to find peace and the power to do it is right there inside you. Try using your everyday life to remind you of it, and see how much that reminder can help you get there.