Mindfulness and compassion in daily activities for a happy life
Are you 40 plus? This article is a helpful tool for a full and happy life through practicing compassion and mindfulness every day. This is for you if you:
- cannot control your thoughts and emotions
- feel depleted of energy
- can’t accept how fast things change
- fear the future
- care about what others think of you
- are ashamed of your past actions
What can you do today to improve your life dramatically over just a few weeks or months?
What is the meaning of mindfulness and compassion?
First watch The Fly, a short emotional video about the importance of applying mindfulness and compassion, and then let’s dive into ways to apply compassion and mindfulness throughout the day.
Mindfulness is awareness and attention followed by remembering to be aware and focused. It is called Sati in Pali language, and it has been practiced for 2,500 years with the purpose of living a happy life through self-realization and spiritual enlightenment. Mindfulness arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally,” says Jon Kabat-Zinn. In The Whole Movement of Life Is Learning, J. Krishnamurti says: “Compassion is not the doing of charitable acts or social reform; it is free from sentiment, romanticism and emotional enthusiasm”. Compassion is the state of equanimous understanding and acceptance of the emotional charge in others and self.
4 easy ways to be more mindful and compassionate
1. Slow down
The most effective step you can take starting right now is to slow down. Slowing down helps you transcend learned useful patterns and align with the natural rules of the universe. Remember to slow down when you stand up, talk, cook, wash your hands, write a message or write a list. Before you start any action, breathe deeply, and return to a place of peace that you set for yourself.
Gabrielle Bernstein makes useful suggestions on how to slow down in at least three daily activities to become more graceful and enjoy your life. While being conscious of the speed of your actions, you develop new patterns that eventually become natural habits. See more great tips in this short video:
1.1. Slow down without meditation
Meditation helps, but it is not mandatory. There is a lot of information available on the practice and benefits of meditation and this article does not focus on that specifically. On the other hand, slowing down is compulsory. When you slow down, the mind slows the thinking process and the observer (that part of you that witnesses the world independently from the hands-on experience and environment) becomes more alert to sensations, paying attention to the voluntary/involuntary action dichotomy.
What happens when you slow down?
- become elegant and graceful
- carry your body with pride
- keep yourself together in any situation
- stop slamming doors and dropping things
- stop bumping into furniture and misplacing things
- enjoy a minimalistic lifestyle, making objects your friends
2. Find your safe space and return to it when you feel overwhelmed
Think of a situation when you are most relaxed. Maybe you are lying on a beach or you are listening to soothing music soaking in a bubble bath. Mark that place in your mind and go back to this reference point every time you feel thoughts or situations clutter. That is your safe space. A safe space helps you prevent situations like lacking compassion in your relationships, not listening intently, jumping to conclusions, or playing the victim. Breathe before you move or take any action and return to your safe space when you need to.
3. Make lists
Lists help you organize your life. Bulleting your activities and goals on paper radically improves your life. You see clearly what you want to do, what you need to work on, and what you should be grateful for.
I have a small gift for you!
Download here a printable version of my list of 10 easy and effective things you can do daily with mindfulness and compassion. It is a life changer!
Making lists leads to useful routines that increase awareness, mindfulness and compassion. They, in turn, lead to healthy habits and a better life.
4. Pay attention
Paying mindful attention means focusing on your body and what happens around you. Check yourself and see if your jaw is tight or loose, notice how often you touch your face, observe the way you move, breathe, nod and carry your body. Focus your attention on details and subtle changes.
2 tips for beginner practitioners of compassion and mindfulness
- If you are a beginner practitioner of compassion and mindfulness, start calling people by their names frequently, as that is the most beautiful music to their ears, and it is a sign of attention, kindness and care.
- In addition, repeat powerful affirmations such as “Good things happen all the time. Bad things can happen too, but so far, I have overcome many life predicaments”.
Is it possible to practice mindfulness and show compassion all day?
Before you continue, please read a heart-warming post about self-love. Here is a quote. Follow the link for the entire article.
The answer is yes, it is possible to be mindful all day long. And here are common life situations in which you can use mindfulness and compassion.
Be mindful and slow down
- eating – chew slowly and focus solely on the food.
- drinking coffee or tea – make it a beautiful daily ritual.
- brushing your teeth – do it with your non-dominant hand to increase neuroplasticity.
- driving – watch the traffic and enjoy it as opposed to stressing over jams and rude drivers.
- answering the phone – let it ring three times, return to your safe space, breathe, smile and then pick up.
- writing a text or an email – write with compassion and think if what you are writing is needed, helpful and makes you and the recipient happy.
- cooking – focus on the colors and shapes of food, count the pieces, and cut and arrange them mindfully.
- working – the best place to practice compassion and mindfulness. Assess if what you do is an act of kindness to you and others, if it is truthful and valuable and if it makes you happy.
- cleaning – decluttering frees your mind. Through mindful cleaning, you change your mindset and improve your life.
More opportunities to practice mindfulness and compassion
Be mindful and slow down when you are showering, dressing up, watching a movie, listening intently, doing sports, or stretching and feeling every fascia and bone in your body. Similarly, practice mindfulness while learning, serving others, organizing information on your phone or computer, reading, opening a door or window, and switching devices on or off. This is a heart-warming post about 5 simple ways to speak less and communicate better as a result of practicing mindfulness and compassion in everyday life.
I recommend the Mindfulness Bell app if you want to have pleasant reminders to return to your safe space and be mindful throughout the day.
Check out more related posts on The Vivi:
Six benefits of practicing compassion and mindfulness
1. You are happy with less
You eat and sleep less and have more energy than ever. Soon, you befriend objects and make the best use of as little material possessions as possible. In no time, you do not need anything extra to make you happy, be it clothes or relationships, as you are happy thinking happy thoughts, speaking the truth and taking the right actions. Desires subside as you find more and more pleasure and enjoyment in the simple things happening around you.
2. Material possessions become less important
In addition, when you practice mindfulness you put less weight on accumulating objects, and you shift towards appreciating what you have and making the best use of your resources. Material possessions are useful, especially in developed societies where you cannot survive without a phone or a credit card, for example, but it is a proven fact that the less you possess the happier you become.
3. You are loving, kind, accepting and dig life
The first thing you notice when you start practicing compassion and mindfulness is that you are more present and aware of what is going on in your life through improving the quality of your thoughts. Moreover, becoming accepting and nonjudgmental helps you act in harmony with the Universe and yourself – what you think, say and do is in congruence all the time. In addition, you become more balanced, kind and loving and less reactive and angry. Not every bad word you hear deserves attention and reaction. Signs of effort and dedication deserve praise. You slowly stop identifying with labels and learned patterns. Moreover, you gain insightful understanding of life and you take an attitude of having no specific goals as part of your accepting mindset.
4. Your life is guilt-free, fun and peaceful
Over time, you take yourself less seriously and see the fun and joy in everything. You care about your own values and ignore what people tell you to think or do. You accept your past with forgiveness and compassion and you stop feeling guilt. There is no guilt in doing the right thing all the time. Furthermore, you are self-confident and strong, flexible and compassionate, happy and joyful all the time. Ultimately, you add no subjective meaning to your experience; you take things as they come and enjoy every process.
5. You live a rich and meaningful life
You add value to every minute of your life. Days become full and meaningful as you pay more and more attention to the tasks at hand and to all events happening around you. Thinking and focusing less on the negative outcome of your actions become priorities because you are busy enriching your life and making it more interesting. You understand that fear is just a mental construct and you allow constructive and pleasant thoughts to populate your mind while gently ignoring the negative talk and reframing bad situations. For example, “I am so stressed by this terrible traffic” becomes “The traffic may be bad, but I am getting closer to my destination and I’m happy about it”.
6. You make helping others your life purpose
Consequently, you make your life purpose to help others suffer less and understand that happiness comes from an awareness of the present moment with acceptance. Realizing that depression, anxiety and emotional turmoil of any kind come from ignorance and lack of self-awareness makes you more forgiving and compassionate. That is why you decide to help people understand that by slowing down, focusing on details, and immersing in equanimous experience they can enjoy a happy life in unexpected and awesome ways. You realize everyone you meet is a mirror of you, and they also try to make the best of their lives with the resources they have. It is your role to help everyone around you by alleviating their pain in any way you can.
Slow down with or without practicing meditation using a safe space as a reset button, make lists and pay mindful attention and new opportunities for happiness will arise.
As your purpose is to live a happy life, being content with less material possessions, finding joy, balance, reframing situations, re-writing old learned patterns, and freeing yourself from guilt and anger helps you built a rich and meaningful human experience. Ultimately, the world becomes a better place if you make it your mission to help others understand and apply compassion and mindfulness to live a happy life.
Call to action!
1. If you are new to spiritual practices, start by listening or reading great tips on how to become more mindful. I recommend lectures and books by Alan Watts, Thich Nhat Hanh, Sam Harris, or Wayne Dyer to name just a few great thinkers, that are relaxing and inspiring.
2. Moreover, please share and comment on this post to spread the word about the benefits of mindfulness. I want to read about your experiences with mindfulness and its effects and benefits in your life. I am interested in your story and I am sure you have valuable insight to share with the world!
3. Last, subscribe via email to get more information and tips on mindfulness and compassion.
Vivi has been writing about the process of self-realization through mindfulness and compassion since the age of six. She helps people know themselves and live their best life. Vivi has been teaching English and Romanian to 10,000 + students since 1990, and she has been blogging about the role of cooking at the intersection of food and self-mastery using simple recipes and copyright food photos.