Mindful Living: As Easy as ABC

In a world full of turmoil, it seems that the practice of mindfulness is almost becoming commonplace within our personal lives, schools and even work. Practicing mindfulness isn’t a grand affair that involves squishy pillows, soft music and chamomile tea. You, yes you, can practice mindfulness on a day-to-day basis no matter where you are or what you are doing.

Doing so is as simple as ABC:

The ABC’s of Mindful Living

Activating events in our lives that trigger an emotional response.

Beliefs (how we process information before jumping to conclusions).

Consequential outcome (the behaviour and actions or emotional response or thought).

Almost everything that happens to us triggers an emotional response or behavioural action – whether it is something positive or negative. You may not believe me when I say this, but, you can be in total control of how the outside world affects you.

Yes, crappy things happen to all of us but how we respond to them is up to us. Practicing mindfulness simply means that when something happens to you, instead of jumping to conclusions and reacting, you process the information first. This way, your response is a thought-out one.

We may not always have time to following this process, but with practice it will become easier.

When we are not mindful of our thoughts and reactions, we are engaging in reactive thinking which may not necessarily turn out well for those involved.

Reactive Thinking

Reactive thinking occurs when we go straight from A to C without processing any information. This is known as cause and effect thinking which means that something happens and we immediately react to it. This may lead us to place blame on others in order to assign reason to our emotional response.

Example:

You are rushing to get to work and end up stuck behind the World’s Slowest Driver. You immediately become impatient, tapping your fingers against the steering wheel and sighing in frustration. Eventually the anger wells up inside you and you proceed to honk your horn and tailgate the slow driver.

Mindful Awareness

When we understand how we process information we can then take responsibility for how we choose to respond. This is mindful awareness and helps us go from feeling out of control to having self-control.

Example:

You are stuck behind Mr. Slow and you notice that feeling of impatience and anger rising up inside you. Perhaps your heart begins to beat a little quicker or your nerves begin to vibrate. Once you recognize that impending feeling you can now choose how to respond to it.

Being Proactive

We can gain empowerment through responsibility when we account for B and avoid jumping to conclusions. Once we follow through with the entire ABC sequence, we are then proactively controlling our thoughts and thinking before we act.

Example:

Late for work. Mr. Slow. Those icky impatient feelings well up inside of you. You recognize them, take a deep breath and think about the situation. Maybe Mr. Slow is a new driver and is terrified of being on the road for the first time. Perhaps Mr. Slow has been in a traumatic accident and drives with extreme caution. Maybe, Mr. Slow has his infant son in the back seat and is driving safely to keep his child safe.

Or maybe Mr. Slow is a huge douchebag who delights in infuriating other drivers.

Whatever the reason, by following the ABC process of mindfulness, you’ve taken control of your emotional response by not becoming frustrated and either riding out the slow drive or finding a different route.

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