3 Clear Ways Being Mindful Improved My Life And My Identity

by Steve Kane

If you told me a year ago I would start a lifestyle rooted in positive thinking, I would have told you there was a better chance the Clippers could win an NBA title.

In fact, this time last year was strictly bad energy for me.

I was going through tough times at work; my startup had hit a brick wall, and it felt like every thought that entered my mind was accompanied by stress and worry.

A mental stopwatch powered by anxiety woke me up each morning.  I lost my center of gravity.

Fortunately, I’m not the Clippers. I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I read a beautiful book called “Wherever You Go, There You Are” and taught myself mindfulness meditation, which I, in turn, prioritized.

I don’t want to say the rest is history because it would be misleading to insinuate meditation is a panacea for everyone’s problems.

But, I am more prepared to confront life’s inevitable roadblocks next time around, thanks to my mindfulness practice.

Here are three things it did for me:

I learned how to let go.

Before I started meditating, I had become so hyper-obsessed with the pursuit of being “successful,” it was as if I was strangling life by the neck, demanding it would answer my prayers for achievement immediately.

Every decision felt momentous. The future mattered more than the present.

Then, with meditation came the process of letting go. I decided to convert my ambition from the imposing force that guided my everyday actions into friendly faithful reminders I selectively referred back to.

This concept of letting go is no different than in sports or dating. The tighter you grip a golf club, the more likely you are to shank.

The more aggressively you pursue a love interest, the less likely he or she is to reciprocate.

I would rather be an athlete who “makes it look easy” than one who makes the game more difficult for him or herself.

I found meaning elsewhere.

One of the beauties of meditation is that it helps create new pathways into the surface area of your heart for new modes of fulfillment to enter and make a home.

Your definition of meaning does not have to take form as an imaginary to-do list of life goals defined by the typical conception of success.

Instead, allow yourself to derive fulfillment in the nooks and crannies of life that are fundamental to you. As an extrovert whose interpersonal relationships are core to my being, I recreated my value system to make sure I took this into account.

From there, off-the-cuff conversations with coworkers gave me a pep in my step. Simple text exchanges with my cousins became more meaningful and special.

And, the persisting familial bonds I share with my closest friends have become core sources of personal satisfaction.

I started listening more.

My biggest pet peeve in this world is when you are trying to talk to someone and he or she is clearly not listening. When I notice this happening, I never know what to do.

I don’t stop talking, but I do lose my train of thought. As a result, I get frustrated and unfocused — the exact opposite of being mindful and aware.

Then, when I notice the person is listening again, I forget where I left off.

That is not to say I haven’t been on the other side of this one-way dialogue.

I love to talk and our smartphone addiction has made the phenomenon of listening more difficult for all of us.

But, the art of being mindful is the art of being present in the moment.

Being conscious of what’s unfolding right in front of you is the key ingredient to paying attention and listening.

Prioritizing listening in my everyday life has made a lasting impact on me.

The advice shared my way feels more inspiring; the stories I hear are more captivating; I get chills more often.

Listening has also improved my memory. Albeit seemingly obvious, there is a direct correlation between close listening and remembering.

Lastly, I have developed a deep admiration for those who possess the under-recognized ability to listen carefully.

The wisest, caring, most influential people in my life all share the unsung hero gene of listening.

A few quotes to leave us with:

Trust in the universe and stress have an inverse relationship.

The world has a funny way of realigning back into the orbit as long as you let it.

To listen is to care. To care is to love.

Peace, Love, Strictly Good Energy.