Did you know that mindfulness can reduce stress, improve your health, and uplift your mood? Most importantly, it can help you discern between beneficial actions that bring happiness and harmful actions that bring distress - for yourself and others.
There’s just one hitch when it comes to mindfulness: Remembering to be mindful.
You want to be present in the moment, right? But before you're know it, your mind is off in Paris, reviewing a hurt from the past, or worrying about the future.
The Mini-Mindfulness Challenge will offer a simple prompt each week - for 4 weeks - to help you find more ease. The "challenge" will be easy, fun, and relaxed.
Mini-Mindfulness Challenge - Week 1: Smile
This week’s mini-mindfulness challenge is simple and enjoyable:
Whenever you see someone, look at them softly and smile in a relaxed way.
Often, we barely notice the person next to or in front of us because we're so lost in our own inner world. Mindfully smiling at each person - in a relaxed way - will bring you into the present moment.
Who can resist a smile?
When you smile and connect with other people via your eyes, they'll almost always smile back. This simple gift of a smile invites them to enjoy the richness of the present moment too.
And doesn't smiling make you feel better as well?
Studies have shown that smiling releases endorphins, natural pain killers, and serotonin, substances that make you feel good. Smiling may also increase immune function, extend your longevity, and reduce your blood pressure.
So give it a try this week! Let each person you see be the trigger that reminds you to mindfully smile. If you don't have a joyful heart at first, you'll soon find one emerging.
But don’t force a smile if you’re not in the mood or it feels false or intrusive.
Remember, the key point is mindfulness. Any act, like smiling, can become automatic while our mind is a million miles away. So be present, mindful, and aware as you share each smile.
Mini-Mindfulness Challenge: Suggested Guidelines
- Practice the prompt for a full week if possible. If not, try it out for 4-5 days.
- Go at your own pace. You don't have to smile at every single person you see unless you want to.
- If you forget, that’s okay. Forgetting is a normal part of the process of learning to be mindful. Just start again as soon as you remember.
- Never reprimand yourself for forgetting. Be gentle and encouraging instead.
- Don’t get stressed! Approach the exercise with playful curiosity.
- Each day celebrate your accomplishment to reinforce it. Even if you mindfully smiled just once that day, it's a good start.
- Keep track of your experience in a journal if you would like, but don't obsess about getting it "right" or collecting the largest number of smiles.
- Return here the next Wednesday to receive a new prompt and share your experience with us.
Simple Tricks to Help You Remember Mindfulness
These simple tricks will help you to remember to be mindful:
- Write “smile” on a post it-note, and place it in a prominent place where you'll see it often.
- Set a timer on your watch, computer, or SMART phone to beep once an hour (or however often you like) as a reminder.
- Collect a few quotes on smiling and reflect on one each day. Here's one to get you started:
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” - Thich Nhat Hanh
Our mind has been wandering around in the past and future for eons. It will take time to learn to be present in the moment so try to let go of expectations, relax, and enjoy the process. The Mini-Mindfulness Challenge provides a structure to make mindfulness easier for you.
If you would like to know more about what mindfulness is and what it is not, please read my article: You Can Beat Stress With Mindfulness.
Do you find it easy to be mindful in daily life? Have you experimented with mindfulness before?
Wishing you a mindful week full of smiles!
Thank you for your presence. If you have a moment, please help me reach others by sharing this post. If you’re new, please subscribe for free updates by email. With love, Sandra