The Psychology Today website describes mindfulness as “a state of active, open attention on the present. When you're mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience”. As a form of therapy, mindfulness has shown promise in treating clinical issues such as depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and even posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For those of us who have not been diagnosed with any of these disorders, I think it is fair to say that most of us would admit that we experience far too much stress and anxiety in our daily lives than we would like. Meditation is a great way to begin cultivating mindfulness, however practicing mindfulness can and should be included in all our daily activities, including walking, eating, or even standing. So why do I think you can benefit from practicing mindfulness?
Greater health, and it is honoring to God
I think it is hard to deny the health benefits that mindful meditation can bring to our bodies, not only as a therapeutic treatment, but for anyone who desires to experience less stress and anxiety in their daily lives. Beyond the benefits already mentioned, mindful meditation can also help reduce pain, enhance the body’s immune system, increase blood flow, slow the heart rate, and increase our energy, among others. We also know that the Bible tells us that we must be good stewards of our bodies, and our “body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you…” (1 Cor. 6:19). Before we begin any meditation exercises we may want to ask ourselves the question “What am I meditating on?” God’s word tells us to dwell upon “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right … and anything worthy of praise” (Phil. 4:8). Furthermore, we read in the book of Proverbs that “For as he thinks in his heart, so he is” (Prov. 23:7). It is clear to me that it is not God’s intention for us to experience stress and anxiety as we do, rather He desires us to be healthy in every way possible.
We will have better relationships
Many of us lead such hectic lives that our relationships suffer. Most of us men are very goal oriented and need to have a sense of accomplishment, so oftentimes we are guilty of thinking ahead of what we think needs to be done and not on the present moment. This means that the people we are around, many times our loved ones, are not receiving the proper attention that is needed for great relationships. Whether we are at work or home, when we become intentional about being mindful of the present moment without judgement, there is no doubt that we will be able to build greater relationships.
We will have more success in our recreational endeavors
This may sound a bit silly, but let’s admit it, many of us men enjoy our sports. Whether it is a pick-up basketball game at the local court, or a simple game of cards, men are generally very competitive and get a real sense of accomplishment when we win. This almost seems inbred in us men. I would argue that we can improve at any recreational activity if we are more mindful. Take for example a big league pitcher, or a top ranked golfer. Whenever these athletes are interviewed going in to a big game or the last round of a tournament, it is very common to hear them say things like “I need to stay in the moment” or “one pitch at a time” or “one shot at a time”. It seems to me that these athletes draw on this type of mindfulness to keep focus and to perform to the best of their ability.
So what are you waiting for? Who wouldn’t want to experience less stress in their lives, greater relationships, and greater focus on all our activities we engage in.
I think most everybody would agree that positive thinking is better than negative thinking. The many benefits of positive thinking are well documented, and just to name a few, they would include lower rates of depression, an increased life span, ability to cope with stress better, and an overall better psychological and physical well-being. What you may not have considered though...
Positive thinking is attractive
If you think about it, who really wants to be around people who are negative all the time. On the other hand, there is something very attractive about people who are generally optimistic about life and have a positive outlook. I think we can assume that a positive thinker is going to have a smile on their face more than a negative thinker, and we all know that there is something about a smile and a friendly face that draws us in and says “hey, I think I could hang around this person.” In fact, don’t be surprised if you gain some friends once you decide to start thinking more positively.
Positive thinking is a choice
Before any one of us takes an action, it must first start in our brain and our thought processes. This is why our thoughts are so powerful. In fact, I believe it is God’s will for us to take a timeout sometimes and consider exactly what it is that we are giving our thoughts to. The Apostle Paul tells us to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2).
Generally speaking, what you spend most of your time thinking about you tend to become. Norman Vincent Peale famously stated “change your thoughts and you change your world.” Positive thinking must become a way of life, not just a one or two-day event. This will take both time and practice. You can begin by practicing positive self-talk, or finding humor in the mundane things in life, and definitely surround yourself with positive people. Yes, like anything else worthwhile it will take some real effort, especially for those of us who may have let negative thoughts become the norm in our lives. But once you decide to become more intentional with your thoughts and choose optimism over pessimism, I promise you will begin to experience the kind of life the God has planned for you.