I can get very stressed and have strong emotional responses to situations. Over the years, many people have suggested that I meditate or do yoga – neither of which appeals to me. So, I was pleased to come across the work of Ellen Langer, a social psychologist and professor at Harvard University. Her research shows how to be mindful without meditating.
Here are four take-aways from watching her video (below):
- Notice new things. When you do, whether it be about a person, a place you’ve walked before, or whatever you put your attention to, is mindfulness. Intentionally noticing new things is being in the present.
- Make what you are doing new in some way. Bring your style, perspective, interpretation to it. Even subtly. When musicians in an orchestra were asked to play their part, something they do over-and-over again, in a subtly new way, both the musician and the listener enjoyed the piece much more.
- Words and perspective matter. For example, instead of thinking of vacuuming as a chore, think of it as a chance to get exercise. Or, instead of thinking of your friend as “gullible,” think of him as “trusting.” When you change words, you change perspective and you get a change in mindset.
- The mind and body are one. Placebos work because of the mind-body connection. Her video has a lot of cool examples of how our mindset effects our health.
I’ve started noticing new things walks with my dogs. One of the things I’ve noticed is how different each tree is from another. They’ve got their own fingerprint. I enjoy the exercise of noticing new things and it certainly get me to be in the moment. And more relaxed.
If you decide to try some of these lessons, feel free to let me know how it goes.
(Profession Website: http://www.BethLevineCounseling.com)
Walks with my dogs help me not only to get outside and get exercise, but also savor the pleasant and interesting things around me. Just this morning, I saw a baby fox looking at us from a safe distance. Often, I take a photo of what I am enjoying (unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo of the fox) which helps me amass a riches of positive feelings. Taking time to stop and smell the roses boosts my positive emotions.
In our daily lives, we are often distracted by our thoughts or tasks at hand, so it is good to purposefully take some time to notice and savor positive things around us. This is one thing we can do to increase our happiness. A trip to the Bahamas or Belize, though awesome, is not needed for us to savor the everyday beauty around us.
If you like, try taking a short walk of about 15 – 20 minutes each day, or however often works for you. Use your different senses to notice some charm in the moment. Feel the cool breeze on your skin. Notice the dramatic cloud formation. Smell the roses. Keeping a written journal or a photographic journal is an additional way to accumulate a treasure chest filled with simple pleasures.
The photos on this blog are some of the visual treats I’ve enjoyed. Most are from walks with my dogs, but some are from walks I’ve taken without Dali and Oskar. Yes, that does happen from time to time. I hope you enjoy.
And if you decide to give this “helpful hint” a try, feel free to let me know how it goes by writing below.
(professional website: http://www.BethLevineCounseling.com)
Dali is one of the most strong-willed individuals that I know. She pursues what she wants with every ounce of energy that she has. When I had to take my other dog, Oskar, to the emergency clinic, Dali snuck out the front door so as not to be left behind. On walks, she sits, unmovable, when she doesn’t want to go the way I want to go. When she desires a neck rub, she sits by my feet and communicates with body language that says it is time. And there is no alternative for me but to massage her neck.
Pretty good for a 20-pound dog.
Though Dali is getter older and the hot, humid summer is hard on her, she still is clear on what she wants. She lets me know when it is time to go home. She makes it clear when she wants to sit and soak in the sun. And she determines when it is time for her, at least, daily neck rub.
In her honor, I am taking steps to go after what I want. I am doing art every day, whether painting or writing poetry, even for a few minutes a day. Taking this first step gave me more energy to do more of the things that are important to me. I started a Google Group that I’ve thought about for at least a year and am taking a bike ride at least once a week. I feel better about myself and more competent.
“Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.” Thomas Jefferson
(professional website: http://www.bethlevinecounseling.com)