by MARC CHERNOFF The Open Mind August 28, 2015
“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.”
– Carl Jung
Mindfulness as a daily ritual is the ultimate challenge and practice. It’s a way of living, of being, of seeing, of tapping into the full power of your humanity.
At its core, mindfulness is…
- Being aware of what’s happening in the present moment without wishing it were different
- Enjoying each pleasant experience without holding on when it changes (which it will)
- Being with each unpleasant experience without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t)
Knowing this is important. Living every day in such a way that makes mindfulness possible is life-changing. Here are twelve basic laws of (practical) mindfulness we often cover with our coaching/course students that make mindful living a gradual reality:
1. Your only reality is THIS MOMENT, right here, right now.
- The secret to health for the mind, body and soul is not to mourn the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the present moment mindfully and purposefully.
- True wealth is the ability to experience the present moment fully. No other time and place is real. Lifelong peace and abundance is found in such simple awareness.
2. A negative thought is harmless unless you believe it.
- It’s not your thoughts, but your attachment to your thoughts, that causes suffering.
- Attaching to a thought means believing that it’s true without proof. A belief is a thought that you’ve been attaching to, often for years.
3. You will not be punished FOR your anger; you will be punished BY it.
- Speak and act when you are enraged, and you will make the best speech and motions you will ever regret.
- Being angry and unhappy about something is easy. Doing something productive about it is the hard and worthwhile part. Life is too precious and too short to spend it being upset. Drop it. Be positive. Be your best.
4. Inner peace is knowing how to belong to oneself, without external validation.
- In order to understand the world, you have to turn away from it on occasion.
- Sometimes you justify yourself to others when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts. Don’t look for anyone else to give you permission to be yourself. You don’t need anyone’s validation to be happy or to live a good life.
5. Everything is created twice, first in your mind and then in your life.
- If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for almost anything.
- Keep your morals close to your heart and at the top of your mind.
6. There is a wilderness you walk alone, however well accompanied you are.
- Others can walk beside you, but they can’t walk in your shoes.
- Give yourself an opportunity to discover who you truly are, and to figure out why you truly are always alone even when you’re surrounded, and why this is perfectly OK.
7. To strongly believe in something, and not live it, is dishonest.
- Don’t bend; don’t water down your dreams; don’t try to make every feeling logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion trends. Rather, follow your most intense passions, mindfully.
- Characterize yourself by your actions and you will never be fooled by other people’s words.
8. The right path and the easy path are rarely the same path.
- You will ultimately come to realize that the struggle is not found on the path, it is the path, and it’s worth your while. Every step forward may be tough, but will feel better than anything else you can imagine.
- People don’t stop pursuing their dreams and passions because they grow old; they grow old because they stop pursuing their dreams and passions.
9. If you want the benefits of something in life, you have to also want the costs.
- Instead of thinking about what you want, first consider what you are willing to give up to get it. You can’t have the destination without the journey. If you want the six-pack abs, you have to want the sweat, the sore muscles, the early mornings at the gym, and the healthy meals.
- Ask yourself: What is worth suffering for? If you find yourself wanting something month after month, year after year, yet nothing happens and you never come any closer to it, then maybe you don’t actually want it at all, because you’re not willing to suffer though the work it’s going to take to achieve it.
10. Overcommitting is the antithesis of living a peaceful, mindful life.
- There’s a difference between being committed to the right things and being overcommitted to everything. It’s tempting to fill in every waking minute of the day with to-do list tasks or distractions. Don’t do this to yourself. Leave space.
- Keep your life ordered and your schedule under-booked. Create a foundation with a soft place to land, a wide margin of error, and room to think and breathe.
11. When you try to control too much, you enjoy too little.
- Don’t live a life packed full of concrete plans. Work hard, but be flexible. The best moments often happen unplanned and the greatest regrets happen by not reaching exactly what was planned.
- Sometimes you just need to let go, relax, take a deep breath and love what is, right now.
12. When you are tired, you are attacked by ideas you likely conquered long ago.
- You must refill your bucket on a regular basis. That means catching your breath, finding quiet solitude, focusing your attention inward, and otherwise making time for recovery from the chaos of your routine.
- It’s perfectly healthy to pause and let the world spin without you for a while. If you don’t, you will burn yourself out.
As I am wrapping up this post, I am reminded that the greatest enemy of good thinking, and thus mindfulness, is busyness.
Busyness isn’t a virtue, nor is it something to respect. We all have seasons of wild schedules, but very few of us have a legitimate need to be busy ALL the time. We simply don’t know how to live within our means, prioritize properly, and say no when we should.
Although being busy can make us feel more alive than anything else for a moment, the sensation is not sustainable long term. We will inevitably, whether tomorrow or on our deathbed, come to wish that we spent less time in the buzz of busyness and more time actually living a purposeful, mindful life. (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Adversity” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)