"Mindfulness is about love and loving life. When you cultivate this love, it gives you clarity and compassion for life, and your actions happen in accordance with that." - Jon Kabat-Zinn
"Mindfulness has helped me succeed in almost every dimension of my life. By stopping regularly to look inward and become aware of my mental state, I stay connected to the source of my actions and thoughts and can guide them with considerably more intention." - Dustin Moskovitz
Mindfulness came to mind this weekend while I was reading Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss. In his book he sets out to relay the advice, coaching and habits he has gathered from over 300 of the top performing people across a wide cross-section of endeavors that he has interviewed. In the first section of the book he describes eight common patterns that emerged from the compilation process of building the book. The first item on the list is:
“More than 80% of the interviewees have some form of daily mindfulness or meditation practice.”
Later he also describes that often that other 20% had interesting habits like listening to the same song on repeat while they work - perhaps as a more informal type of meditation. Interesting.
At its core, mindfulness is a mental skill that lets the mind look at itself and see what is happening as if it were an outside observer. Perhaps you’ve had the experience in which you’ve said something and then immediately realized it was not the right thing to say. That thought that followed might have been "why did I just say that?" That is your mind looking at its own operation.
This skill can be improved through practice and my guess is that anyone that you meet that is at the top of their field has a method for practicing mindfulness in their day. Do you have something you do each day does something similar for you?
Dustin, a co-founder of Facebook (and worlds youngest self-made billionaire), speaks directly to the value of this skill. The cycle of monitoring, evaluating, and improving your thoughts leads directly to more actions in your day that are in alignment with what you actually want. So it makes sense to do more of that, right?
As you practice watching your own thoughts, you will quickly realize that it is easy to be critical of your own failures. Once you give your mind some credit for being an amazing thing, flaws and all, you begin to realize that compassion for yourself is paramount for living effectively, performing at your best and being happy doing it.
How do you react to your own thinking? What thoughts come into your head that give you pause?
Many people have not developed their mindfulness skill much yet and as we work to become more aware and more intentional about ourselves we can also extend that compassion to those around us that are still struggling. We're all on this ride together.
How many different types of thoughts did you have today? Give it a shot and see if you can keep track!