How great is your mindfulness about your experiencing pleasure any and all the time, or is that only possible when you are in a leisure situation?
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In recent coaching sessions, we have been speaking about enjoyment, and realized that to enjoy something is akin to “being in joy”, that is to be experiencing joyful sentiments or feelings or emotions, no matter what situation we are in or what is happening within us or around us at that time. And that to notice or recognize that we are in this “state of joy”, that we need to be(come) aware of it; to become mindful of it.
Mindfulness: Pleasure only in Leisure?
You see, I have found that people often think they need to be in a leisure situation where they can relax and forget about or switch off the daily grind, before they can actually experience “joy” or pleasure. Does that mean we can only “enjoy” when we are on holidays or having a weekend? Listening to the way people talk, one could be forgiven for thinking so, couldn’t we? Heck, if that were true, the ratio of “holi”days to “normal” days is so skewed, we’d surely be “screwed” if that was the only time we were able to be “in joy”, right?
Does Your Autopilot Have a + or – Orientation?
Life is so full on. In order to survive the constant stimulus bombardment and staying on (top of) the treadmill, our “autopilot” seems to drown out most awareness for most emotions, including joy. That risks us being so busy that we can too easily forget why we are doing what we are doing.
I love the metaphor that when a dog is in the hunt for a rabbit, it has no time to think about, find or scratch for fleas, does it? Nope, it has a purpose. However, isn’t it remarkable the fleas that we can come up with when we have no purpose and are “drifting”? Albeit that our drifting seems to be at a frenetic pace nonetheless, right? And it’s no secret that the more the frenetics drive us toward overwhelm, the greater our propensity to engage in negative thinking and allowing ourselves to dwell (even wallow) in what isn’t working rather than to remind ourselves of everything that is working.
I have often referred to my blog Gratitude in the context of leveraging the concept of reminding ourselves of everything we can be grateful for, whenever we feel “down”. It’s very hard to frown when we have a smile on our face, right? Have you tried that? Go on, just have a play and see if we’re right.
Mindfulness: Where Are You Shining Your Torch Beam?
And so as a result of that insight from those coaching sessions, I have chosen to become much more aware of noticing the joy in the moment. This is what Eckhart Tolle writes about so well in his book “The Power of Now”: to experience life right here, right now and in the present moment.
And do you know what I’ve found; that there is joy to be found all around us; all the time; and in everything that we do. I have found that it is just a choice; that if we allow ourselves to pause the autopilot to make way for more awareness, that we will notice whether our mind (our left brain actually) is feeding us to preserve our ego and look for the (protective) negative or whether we refuse to engage that and rather seek the positive.
Like a search engine, we can control what we look at and look for. It’s where you choose to shine your torch beam in a dark room – when you do, it drowns out everything else in the room that is still in darkness.
You don’t notice each and every car going past outside, do you? Why? Because you choose not to have to engage them. They just “are”. Which is exactly the same with our thoughts, particularly the negative ones. You don’t need to engage them. If they persist, I have learned to acknowledge them and say in my self talk: “hi, I see you’re back, but I’m just going to let you through to the keeper – see ya later”. And then rather focus on what matters to me at that time. The ability to do that starts with learning to be more in our awareness or mindfulness.
Using Wonderment To Aid Mindfulness
And so I have learned that our thinking and self talk around even the most challenging situations can be arrested by wondering or being curious about:
• why we find ourselves in this situation
• what we could or are meant to be learning from it
• what joys there might be within it or to immediately follow it?
I have learned from those coaching conversations how vitally important this is and also how incredibly easy it is at the same time. It is a choice we have power over. How good is that?
Mindfulness: A Relevant External Link
While I was writing this, a Linked-In Group I belong to sent an email from Jonathan Figuoaroa, headed: “Mindfulness is the only way to happiness in all aspects of life” in which he points to research posted in the Harvard Business Review https://hbr.org/2015/01/mindfulness-can-literally-change-your-brain. Talk about timing.
The key sentence (quote) that captured my attention in the context of this blog was: “Neuroscientists have also shown that practicing mindfulness affects brain areas related to perception, body awareness, pain tolerance, emotion regulation, introspection, complex thinking, and sense of self”. Wow.
Mindfulness: So what if?
Well, apart from the above quote, no rocket science in all of that is there? Yet can you feel how much power there is for you within those realizations? Can you see how easily we can allow ourselves to be directed by the treadmill but also see how easy it actually is to pause that and bring our mindfulness back into the moment so as to exercise a choice? The right choice? Can you hear yourself say: “whoa, I don’t like where this is going, I’m going to change it”.
What if you had a go this week? What if you set a goal to catch yourself every time you had that mindfulness and did something about it? What if you rewarded yourself in some little way whenever you did? What if this led to a new behaviour pattern, a new habit for you?
At the start of 2015, what if this became a resolution that when you look back at the end of this year you realize how much of a difference it made to your success, your contentment, reducing your stress levels and above all raising your awareness of your enjoyment of who you are, what you do and what you are to those around you?
And if, like my client(s) for whom this made such a difference, this was something you want to seriously engage with, why not contact me and Let’s Talk Coaching, OK? I would be honoured to explore the benefits with you and hold you accountable to making sure they work for you.
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Tim Boyle says
Heiner – thanks for this post! For me it was a relief – I know in life we need “balance” etc. but for many of us we get most pleasure from doing things in our lives that may not be classified as “leisure”.
Mindfulness is so true – seeing and being present in what we are doing NOW. I also read recently we get so wrapped up in conceptual things including “words” that we forget the wonder and mystery of things around us which are more reality e.g. nature, children etc.
This too, is a challenge to me but it has been fun in the short time I have been trying it.