Last Friday I was on a complete high; I had taken a big step toward achieving a personal goal, and was rather excited about it and proud of myself for making that leap.
But by the time 5pm rocked around, my ‘rule the world’ attitude had taken a turn. I was cranky, irritated, somewhat frustrated – and I had no idea why.
In my mind, I back tracked through my afternoon and suddenly, there it was. I pin pointed the moment that things went wrong, and it was stupid. So stupid.
As always, I’d put a lot of work into my most recent blog post and hours after posting, my friend pointed out I’d made a major typo in the first line. Well major for me, because the truth is most people probably didn’t even notice it, but typos drive me nuts. I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my work, and to realise I’d made a silly mistake in the first line – which was showing up in every preview on every social media site I’d posted on – was really disappointing. I was really annoyed with myself, and as a result, this is how my afternoon continued.
Became frustrated with some news stories in local media, had a bit of a whinge about them to a colleague and dwelled on the fact I couldn’t do anything to change it.
Searched someone on Facebook I wasn’t particularly happy with at the time and looked at what they’d been up to. Despite none of the content being even remotely irritating, allowed myself to become more irritated anyway.
Snapped at my boyfriend on the phone because I wanted him to come shopping with me after work, but he went earlier without me. When I got short and sharp, he asked what was up and even though he hadn’t done anything wrong, I was still annoyed.
On the drive home, got stuck behind a slow learner driver, which I’m normally very patient with because I was a learner once and I know how nerve wracking it can be; but instead I putted along behind them fuming.
Now let’s look at how my afternoon would have panned out if I had have practised mindfulness.
Become annoyed at a typo. Taken a moment; a few deep breaths. Realised it’s just a freakin’ typo! Who cares? And anyone who took the time to notice would have probably chuckled at my error, admitted they make the same mistake sometimes and also realised that I had fixed it in the actual body of my blog post. In the meantime, I was doing awesome things to pave way for incredible opportunities in my future. High five me!
Yep – taking a moment for myself and practising mindfulness would have really changed the whole mood of my afternoon. I would have avoided conflict with someone I love, enjoyed my leisurely drive home in the sunshine focussing on all the fun things I was going to do that weekend, relieved another working week was over.
Not familiar with mindfulness?
If you Google it, you’ll find a whole variety of definitions, but in my own words and understanding; mindfulness is being aware of your feelings, thoughts and sensations in the present moment, taking control of them (rather than letting them influence you) and addressing those issues before they become toxic. I see it as either finding a solution to positively change how you’re feeling, or accepting you cannot change your situation and letting go of all negativity.
This practice is still something that’s fairly new to me; at a work conference last year I unexpectedly ended up in a lecture led by Dr Craig Hassed and, upon finding it completely intriguing, switched my following session to yet another mindfulness lecture so I could absorb more. One thing Dr Hassed mentioned really stood out to me that day, and still sticks with me a year on.
To explain what he said, I’ll give you an example.
Imagine you’re trying to study a day before a test, but instead of focussing on your notes, you have a knot in your stomach; nervous about how you’ll go and worried about whether you’ll get a good mark.
You can continue to worry and not get any productive study done, or you can realise that these feelings might actually cause you to perform poorly, and instead push them aside and get on with the job.
Dr Hassed told us that worrying about something that could happen in the future is really just a waste of time and energy. Either do something in the present to change the potential outcome, eradicating any reason to worry, or accept you can’t change anything and stop spending your valuable time fretting about it – instead just deal with it when it actually happens.
Did you also know that every time you get distracted from what you’re doing, it takes you around five minutes to regain concentration?
I took this on board and still today when I have major projects to complete or tight deadlines, turn on my voice mail, deactivate my email alerts and pop in my headphones so I can’t be distracted by any noise around me (classical music is great to work to FYI!). It is amazing how much more productive I am and how much time I save just by doing a few simple things.
But unfortunately, despite being completely enthralled with the idea of mindfulness, I’ve been really lazy at applying it to a lot of aspects of my life that could really benefit from it. Especially when it comes to cracking wobblies, not letting myself get worked up over next to nothing, and allowing myself to become insanely frustrated when something doesn’t work out the way I’d like it to.
Fortunately, I was reminded by my dear friend and fellow blogger Rachael over at My Balanced Living (who has so many fantastic tips and tricks on applying mindfulness to your own life!) how beneficial it can be. And yeah, I didn’t quite put it to good use on this particular Friday, but being able to eventually recognise the source of my angst and redirect my emotions so my whole night wasn’t ruined convinced me this is a skill I need to master.
You can bet your bottom dollar that I’ve recently added a collection of books on mindfulness to my reading list and fortunately I have almost two weeks of lying on a beach in Fiji coming up when I can actually get some reading done.
In the meantime, I’m just doing my best to avoid any