How often do you say “hello” or “good morning” out of habit? Or, how often does someone say “hello” to you as they are walking by and looking at their cell phone? A lot of us get caught up in the movement of the day and find ourselves repeating “hello” or “good morning” without much thought. This may be to our family, the person taking our coffee order or a colleague. Along with these greetings are the common pleasantries of asking “how are you?” or “how was your weekend?” Again, the words come out of our mouths, but without much meaning or thoughtfulness.
This doesn’t happen because we are unkind. We’re simply distracted. In fact, one study by researchers Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert of Harvard University shows that we spend almost half of our time NOT thinking about what we are doing. If you’re like most of us, when you are asking someone about their weekend, you’re really thinking about the meeting you’re running late for or what you want to make for dinner.
This week, practice bringing mindfulness to the everyday pleasantries we tend to take for granted. When saying “hello,” put down your phone, take a breath and make eye contact. Connect with the greeting and the person you are talking to. If you want to ask someone about their weekend, take a breath and be prepared to listen. Notice what it brings up for you emotionally and bring your attention back to the person.
When you practice bringing mindfulness to everyday pleasantries you will find that it creates a sense of joy and gratitude that is infectious. When people are heard, truly listened to, they feel better. When we take the time to listen, we also feel better about ourselves and the world we live in. So, good morning and may you have a lovely day!
Mindful moments are short practices to be used throughout your week to relax, integrate and center yourself. Inspired by the wisdom traditions and science, mindful moments are meant to be accessible and simple enough for anyone to practice. Many teachers and leaders in integrative medicine have influenced our approach to mindful moments. Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” Pema Chodron would say it is “practicing in the gaps.” Look for the weekly mindful moment every Monday. May it support you in finding your center to live life to the fullest.