8 Benefits of Mindfulness That Will Improve Your Life
Have you ever driven somewhere and realized you don’t remember the drive? Or eat something and it’s gone before you’ve really tasted it? Have you ever blown up on someone and wondered where it came from? We tend to rush through life, living in the past or worrying about the future, instead of living in the moment and enjoying life.
I think that life is about the here and now. If we dwell on the past, we are missing out on what could be today. If we spend all of our time worrying about or planning the future, we actually never get there. The future we want for ourselves will never happen unless we are taking steps towards it right now, today.
This is where mindfulness comes in. I’ve talked a little bit about mindfulness in some of my other posts, like this one on gratitude. But, I wanted to put mindfulness in the spotlight for once, because it can bring so much goodness to your life.
What is mindfulness?
But first, what is mindfulness? According to Merriam-Webster, mindfulness is “the quality or state of being mindful” or “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis”.
Mindfulness is bringing your attention to what you are experiencing right now without judgment. It’s paying attention to your thoughts and feelings. It’s being aware of what is happening in and around you.
For me, mindfulness is living in the moment. I find that living in the moment is the most important thing we can be doing at any given time. After all, if you’re not living in the moment, you’re missing the moment.
My Experience with Mindfulness
I started practicing mindfulness without knowing what it was. I had decided I wanted to live a better life. For starters, I wanted to enjoy every moment and I wanted to be more present with my kids and husband. And I NEEDED to let go of the past and stop worrying about my future…for my mental health. For me, it started with simple things like putting away my phone more and actually looking at my kids and listening better when they were talking to me.
When I noticed myself feeling bitter or resentful of things in the past, I chose to shift my thoughts toward all the things I have to be thankful for right now. When I started to worry about the future and lose confidence, I switched my thoughts to what I can do right now to make my future better.
Sometimes that meant I needed to learn how to do something, like promote my blog on social media. (So unnatural for me!) Or sometimes I needed to reach out to someone and take the first step to make amends.
I know that if I want tomorrow to be better, I need to do something about it today.
Once I learned what mindfulness was, I started using mindfulness practices for my mental health in other ways as well. I struggle with depression and anxiety at times. Mindfulness has helped put my mind at ease during these times.
In fact, mindfulness has at times stopped an anxiety attack about to happen. I would feel the anxiety coming on, so I would turn my focus to the present. I would pay attention to what I was seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, and even tasting.
Being mindful of what was happening in the moment allowed me to see the moment for what it really was and snap out of anxious thoughts that would cause me to spiral out of control.
8 Benefits of Mindfulness
From my experience, mindfulness has many benefits for your life. Mindfulness has completely changed the way I live, the way I view life, and the way I approach any given moment.
Now, I’m not always being mindful, but I am increasingly more often, and with that has come more and more positive change in my life.
Here are the benefits I have seen from practicing mindfulness:
1. It helps you slow down.
We live in a fast-paced world where we have lost the art of slowing down and enjoying life. In any given moment, we are usually preparing for the next one, even if just in thought. We’ve forgotten how to leave space in our lives for spontaneity and the unexpected.
We treat a phone call from a relative we love like a terrorist to our schedule. Because we fill said schedule to the brim with things we think we have to do, as a parent, as a citizen, as an employee, when we really just need to live our own life purpose uniquely.
2. It helps you know yourself better.
When we are more mindful of our thoughts, we learn how our minds work. We may learn what causes certain behaviors from us.
When we are more mindful of our feelings, we get to find out what makes us happy, scared, worried, and a myriad of other emotions. We can recognize our thoughts and feelings for what they are and give them proper labels instead of the power to unravel us.
3. It helps you focus or concentrate.
If you’ve never practiced mindfulness, you may not realize how hard it is for you to concentrate. I bet many of us would struggle to be present for one whole minute!
Regularly practicing mindfulness has made it easier for me to focus. Now, when I’m talking with a friend, I find it easier not to become distracted by my phone or other people/things in the room.
4. It helps you ruminate and stress less.
If you’re at all like me, you may do a lot of living in your head. I relive past experiences and I think about all of the possible scenarios in which my life could unfold. Instead of preparing myself for the future (like I tell myself I am), I am really just getting more and more stressed.
But mindfulness puts a stop to that. It allows you to deal with your emotions and thoughts in healthier ways. For more help on improving your thought life, check out this post on renewing your mind.
5. It helps you change bad habits.
If you have a habit you are trying to break, mindfulness might help.
I had a habit of self-sabotaging relationships because my thoughts went from bad to worst-case scenarios in a matter of seconds. Mindfulness helped me change my thinking. It helped me see a situation for what it really was instead of blowing it out of proportion.
Mindfulness can help you alter your habits. Instead of letting your emotions take control and dictate your behavior, you begin to pause and choose how you will respond.
6. It helps us be more resilient.
Life isn’t suddenly always beautiful and rosy because you are living in the moment. Living in the moment doesn’t necessarily mean that every moment is worth enjoying.
There will be moments that suck and we will wish to get out of them as soon as possible. But, mindfulness helps us bounce back. It helps us stay in control of our reactions, so we recover more quickly when bad things happen.
7. It leads to self-acceptance and compassion for others.
When you get to know your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors better, you learn to accept yourself. You acknowledge your thoughts and feelings without judging them. You learn to understand why you think, feel, and act the way you do.
This helps us feel more connected to ourselves and others. When we understand how we work, it helps us understand where others are coming from and why they may react the way they do.
8. It leads to a happy, more enjoyable life.
Mindfulness can lead you to enjoy your life more. Not because life got better, but because you see it differently.
You are able to enjoy the little moments of life because they don’t go unnoticed. You can stay mentally healthy because you don’t ruminate on things that aren’t worth your time and energy.
And you enjoy yourself and others for who they are without judgment. Life will never be perfect, in fact, some of it will be really hard, but mindfulness gives you the tools you need to rise above and overcome.
Looking for ways to practice mindfulness? Check out The Little Book of Mindfulness: 10 Minutes a Day to Less Stress, More Peace. This little book is so calming and helpful if you are trying to make mindfulness part of your everyday life!
What do you do to stay living in the present? Do you have any mindfulness practices to share with us? Let us know in the comments!
Theresa Bedford is a syndicated freelance home and travel writer with regular contributions to the Associated Press wire and MSN. She helps everyday people love the life they have through simplicity, organization, and prioritization.
I’ve tried Mindfulness a few times but can never quite get to grips with it. Glad it works for you!
Interesting, why do you think that is?
What a great post! I try to live mindfully too, it’s definitely something I’m working on! I love all 8 of the benefits you listed. Definitely great motivation to keep working on being mindful. I often find myself worrying about past events or the future too, this post had so many great reminders to be more mindful and present. Thanks for another awesome post!
Thank you so much, Melissa! I think there’s a reason we call it a practice…I definitely don’t have it down yet either! As usual, I am writing this to myself as well. I don’t want to pretend I have it all together. I need these reminders just as much! 😉
I have been especially focussing on these things lately. I hope that as this year ends and the new one rings in that I can attain the level of mindfulness that I lost. My family and I deserve for me to be better 😉
I hope you are able to keep your mindfulness practice going, Sarah! I know that it makes me an all-around better person as well. Also, check back here for my post on January 2 for tips on how to stick with your goals for the new year. You could even subscribe to my emails using the form on this page so you don’t miss it! 🙂
This is such a wonderful post! Mindfulness and gratitude are two things that i have tried to focus on the last few months and I am just in such a wonderful mind set because of these qualities. Thanks for giving me some additional ways i hadn’t thought of yet to be more mindful.
Thanks, Jeanette! That has been my focus too…maybe it’s just that time of year. LOL I’m so glad that you are beginning to see these benefits already. They only seem to get better as time goes on! And you are so welcome. It makes me so happy to know that this post was meaningful for you. 🙂
Mindfulness has changed my life on so many levels – you’ve hit the nail on the head here! xx
I know, right?! It’s amazing how something so simple can make such an impact. 🙂
Thanks for this. I’ve been trying to practice mindfulness a lot more lately. A friend of mine recently got me into the teachings of Thích Nhất Hạnh. I’m really starting to see the benefits.
You’re welcome, Johnny! I hope you continue to see more benefits the longer you’ve been practicing!
thank you for sharing i try to apply mindfulness in every aspect of my life, sometimes we get caught up in planning for the future that we miss the present.
You are so welcome, Denise. It is so easy to apply mindfulness to every area of life…I just love it. The possibilities and benefits are endless!
Great post, thank you. I’ve never through of mindfulness in all these ways before – I could do wtih some more focus and conscentration.
Thank you for checking it out, Melitta! I’m so glad that you found it helpful.
For me, the most important take away from mindfulness is the ability to slow life down, even for just a few moments every day. Time enough to show gratitude for your life and loved ones.
So true…that alone can work wonders!
I found this post so insightful that I felt compelled to comment. You’ve shared your experiences beautifully and given great tips on how to make mindfulness an everyday practice. Thank you for sharing!
Wow! Thank you so much! I’m glad you found it so helpful. 🙂
I agree, practicing mindfulness has so many benefits. It helps a lot with relieving anxiety as well.
Yes! I’ve dealt with anxiety, so I know what you mean!
mindfulness is so tough! but worth it
It gets easier with practice! Start small. 😉
Being mindful is an everyday task, and I’ve only started yesterday! Living in the present is the best way to live 🙂
Good luck! I hope you are able to make it part of your daily routine so it becomes second-nature!
Great article. I’ve been trying to practice mindfulness for a long time now. It’s really difficult sometimes but I definitely do believe in the benefits. Thanks for writing this!
You are welcome, Alina! I hope you continue to see more and more benefits the longer you practice. 🙂
To be mindful is so crucial in order to have a happy and healthy life. Not easy at times, but so much worth it!! Thank you for reminding me to make the most of each day and live in the moment! 😊
I agree! It has helped my own mental health tremendously. You’re welcome, Mom! 😉
Great article.I gotta get back into mindfulness. Used to read a lot of Eckhart Toll.
Thanks, GG! Mindfulness has helped me in so many ways…I hope you do get back into it! ☺️
Mindfulness is the practice of giving your full, open-hearted attention to what is immediately occurring, physically and mentally, within and around you. It’s about being aware of what you’re doing and how you’re feeling in each moment, and being kind to yourself in the process.
Mindfulness enhances your ability to appreciate life’s beauty and respond, rather than react to life’s challenges.
Through mindfulness, you can learn how to support your own wellbeing, and develop the skills and resilience needed to face life’s challenges. Mindfulness gives you the tools you need to be the artist of your own life, sculpting your brain in new ways to reduce stress and anxiety and enhance wellbeing.
The world around us is ripe with distractions and choices. We struggle to shut off after a long day of work. We are constantly switched on through our tech devices and digital media.
Multitasking has become the norm and this leads to excess stress, poor sleep patterns, frustration and depression, just to name a few.
Everyone seems to have a slightly different way of defining what mindfulness means to them. Though, within each individual definition, the main concept holds true – mindfulness is about being aware of the present moment.
Mindfulness is about slowing down, letting go of the daily juggle and replacing multitasking with mono tasking (focusing on one thing at a time)
By taking time each day to slow down and be present in each moment, we give our brains a chance to refresh and recharge.