The plain definition of mindfulness is: paying attention to anything around us without judgment.
Of course, it is more complex to be more attentive in our daily lives as our work, thoughts, and emotions take a big part of our day and influence our actions. What holds us back is our trained autopilot. A lot of things we do throughout the day are done because we have always done it that way. Why question it, if it works? Our internal conversations are deciding quickly on how to go about a busy day, but is it always the most successful way? There are many facets of how mindfulness can be useful.
This post is focusing on how we can increase our attention to what we do. I am not saying we have to change, what I am saying is that there is always room to look at one aspect in our life that could use additional attention or awareness. Once we realized that there are better ways of doing a certain task or live through an experience, we will be more likely to adjust other parts of our lives.
For example, I was teaching a session at Purchase College and I showed a video about "Digital Dementia," this video proposed that the cell-phone overuse and not being able to remember phone numbers is making us dumb. Receiving a student's response that this isn't true, I noticed that it isn't a question of remembering a number, more on how aware we are using our phones, digital devices, or any activities we do excessively.
In the past month, I have raised the awareness on how much I am using my phone and paid attention on how distracted I get. It takes a lot of effort to recognize the use and the impact it has on my life. I started to look at the time to see how long I spend browsing through different apps or looking for things to do on my phone (messages, emails, facebook, instagram). Recently, I put a one hour limit for social media use (we are able to go past it, we just get notified), it helped me just to have a better understanding on when and how often I use it.
This is just one example I did over the past few months. Other ideas are, we could pay more attention when we drive from A to B, noticing our surroundings and actually being aware where and what we drive past without any distraction of our phones, music, or thoughts. Or playing with our kids without any distraction, as mentioned, just you and your children. The foods we eat, the exercise we do, morning or bed routine, etc. There are numerous ways that mindfulness or just paying attention can benefit us and give us more meaning in what we do. Good luck!