The holidays can be a trying time, even if you love all the celebrations and socializing that accompany them. This year (and every year afterward), it’s a good idea to shift gears mentally and focus inwardly on reducing stress and being happy.
This shift is where mindfulness comes in.
Estimated reading time: 4.5 minutes
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the ability to be completely present and aware of where we are and what we’re doing, while not being unduly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s happening around us.
It’s not just good for our mental health either. In-depth studies from the University of British Columbia and the Chemnitz University of Technology reveal that developing mindfulness changes the way your brain matter is physically organized.
The Seven Basic Principles of Mindfulness and How to Practice Them
We’ve broken down the seven fundamental principles of practicing mindfulness according to the famous philosopher Jon Kabat-Zinn. His book Wherever You Go, There You Are is a foundational text for mindful living, and there’s so much we can learn from this practice—during the holiday season and beyond.
1 Be Nonjudgmental
Adopting a nonjudgmental attitude means becoming an observer of your own experience or developing the capacity to be aware of unconscious value judgments you’re making. And then creating space to be more compassionate.
Tune yourself into the awareness of that constant stream of inner and outer evaluations. You’ll find it’s much easier to identify patterns and develop an awareness of your own unconsciously held beliefs. Once you’re aware of these beliefs, you can begin to see how and why they’re occurring.
2 Practice Patience
A virtue by any standard, especially during the holiday season when shops are busy and family members are getting on our nerves, patience means making peace with things outside our control and cultivating the ability to allow life to unfold around us.
This mindset is not complacency.
Rather, it’s an understanding of what can and cannot be changed and appropriate time frames for change to occur and lays the groundwork for increased joy.
3 Maintain a Beginner's Mind
Like relinquishing the illusion of control, mindfulness calls on us to abandon the illusion that our knowledge is enough so we can truly learn from life's experiences.
It encourages you to cultivate curiosity and wonder and to be receptive to new ideas and ways of thinking that let you see life from a different perspective. Plus, it teaches you to appreciate the things you already see, experience, and interact with in a calmer and more positive light.
We often take so much for granted, and the holiday season is a wonderful time to really take stock and see how much you have to feel grateful for. Try new things, celebrate changing traditions, and consider every moment as a teachable one. You’ll stress less about the could-of-would-have-should-have factor and enjoy the moment.
4 Develop Trust
Work on trusting yourself more.
This inner connection with self doesn’t mean expecting yourself to always make the right decision but instead trusting yourself to carry on gracefully, especially when you happen to make the wrong decision. However, this attitude isn’t as simple as having faith in yourself to stay strong no matter the obstacles. It’s about trusting yourself to be vulnerable, too.
This kind of trust is an act of bravery. It makes you more emotionally resilient and able to bounce back from difficult times. We all experience holiday stress in different ways; cultivating resilience helps you shrug off any fatigue and put your focus on gratitude and being happy.
5 Be Present and Stop Comparing!
Comparing is the act of seeing others better or worse. It can create a drive to be superior to other people or to have more than them in a tangible or conspicuous way. It’s often fueled by our own insecurities based on others’ expectations. More expensive gifts, bigger parties, a house filled with extraordinary decorations… the trappings of picture-perfect movies, and what other people expect are not always in reach.
Being present is all about awareness of the present moment and what you’re currently experiencing. Stop trying to be more and have more. Reduce your unnecessary acquiring of material goods, cancel subscriptions you don’t need, and stop trying to buy your worth. It’s natural to strive to be your best self but try a minimalist lifestyle that simplifies our lives and clarifies what truly matters.
6 Assume an Attitude of Acceptance
Acceptance refers to seeing things as they indeed are, not as we wish them to be. Once you start seeing life by embracing what is, your actions will align more closely with the world around you. You will find it easier to act appropriately in your life, whatever circumstances and obstacles come your way. Acceptance and gratitude hold the power to eliminate complaining and discontent.
7 Live and Let Live
When we tune into all the judgments and beliefs running through our minds and become aware of the recurring themes and patterns, we often discover that we’re holding on to inaccurate and unhelpful thoughts, attitudes, and expectations.
The key to mindfulness is letting go of these counterproductive concepts.
Make Mindfulness a Part of You
Making your holidays more mindful is the start of a journey you can apply to your everyday life. These principles can reduce stress levels and improve happiness, which is something we can all benefit from all year round.
To get more resources, to grow in emotional intelligence, or for support, email Support@heartmanity.com.