Mindfulness: The basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
Thinking agility: The capacity to consciously shift your thinking when the situation requires.
Two important concepts but where do they intersect?
When we’re more mindful in our day-to-day lives, we have better control over our thinking – ultimately making us more agile.
Mindful moments are an opportunity to pay attention to what your mind is doing and how it’s doing it. In a world where information continuously comes at us from all different directions, mindfulness ensures we stay grounded and steers us away from unproductive or self-destructive habits.
Just think about the times you’ve felt mentally exhausted at the end of the day despite not really having had a chance to think? Being mindful of your thinking and where it goes is the best way to take advantage of the flexibility your brain provides you.
Practicing mindfulness can seem intimidating at first. I mean – how can anyone be expected to quiet their noisy brains and focus on their thought patterns? Trust us, it doesn’t have to be over-complicated.
Here are a few simple ways to ease into mindfulness and become more deliberate in your thinking
1. Prioritise thinking breaks
Are you making time in your day to just think? It’s tempting to book yourself solid each day when there’s so much on your to-do list. But it’s really important to find time each day to just reset. Instead of booking your meetings for 30 or 60 minutes, book them for 20 or 50. Use those extra ten minutes to mentally recharge at the end of the call and reset before another task.
Mindfulness requires time but it doesn’t have to be a massive to-do. You simply need to decide it’s something you want to prioritise and then set aside a few short breaks to practice.
2. Don’t panic when your mind wanders
It’s natural for your mind to wander when you try to focus it. Our brains have a tendency to zero in on everything but the present moment. How many times have you found yourself thinking about that one time you tripped in front of your school class ten years ago when you were really supposed to be finishing a report?
Don’t get frustrated, simply call your mind back to the here and now.
According to non-profit Mindful, these moments are crucial to a healthier, more agile brain. The more we are able to recognise our mind wandering and call it back to attention, the more control we have over our thinking. Practicing this will turn it into a skill you can call on in even the most hectic of moments.
3. Work on flexing your thinking muscles
Once you feel like you have the swing of mindfulness, take some time to try some new thinking techniques. Focus in on your current thought pattern, how could you take a more innovative approach? Are you looking at the situation through a holistic lens or are you taking your usual route? Practicing different ways of thinking makes it easier to call on these approaches when you need a creative solution. Thinking agility is born out of mindful moments like this.
Now that you know how to tackle mindfulness, take the next step by downloading The Whole Brain® Stress Management Toolkit and learn more about how to turn your stress into something productive!