Mindful people approach the world differently from those who live less presently. The mindful person likely wasn’t born that way but took the time to develop the traits and habits of mindfulness as they grow wiser. Mindful living can be a great way to soak in the world around you to become more aware of your actions, behaviors, and thoughts. By trying out some of these behaviors, you might realize how enjoyable it is to live in the moment. So, let’s get down to it. Here are 16 things mindful people do differently.
16 Things Mindful People Do Differently
1. They Look Up
In the morning, as you walk to work, where do your eyes gaze? If you’re like most people, you likely stare down at your feet and the sidewalk to avoid tripping. That definitely has some safety benefits. And while this section is about looking up, we don’t want you to stare at the sky as you walk because if you’ve got clumsy feet as I do, you’ll likely trip. Mindful people do look up, though. They take time out of their day to observe areas they don’t regularly notice.
For example, if you’re walking, you’ll need to stop to look up. And most people are usually in a rush to get to the office because they feel like they can’t afford to take an extra 20 seconds to change their gaze. When you walk the same path to work every day, do you notice all of the shops, flowers, and signs along the way? Have you ever looked at the buildings’ roofs? Do you ever look up long enough to make eye contact and smile at a person walking by? Shifting your gaze from your feet to eye level or above is an excellent practice for mindful living. And it’s something that mindful people practice regularly.
2. They Taste Their Food
Mindful people don’t gulp their food down in front of the TV marathoning their favorite show. They’ll sit at the kitchen table, with their family, and notice the taste of the food in their mouth. They’ll eat one thing at a time to taste the specific flavors of their food. Then, they’ll pair different items together to notice the flavors of two combined items to study the taste of that. They’ll mindfully chew their food for about 30 bites to ensure that it’ll be digested well. Doing this might make the meal a bit longer than not eating mindfully. However, you’ll notice that you’ll enjoy your meal more. Sometimes at lunch, you might experience that you don’t have anyone to eat lunch with. When that happens, use it as an opportunity to practice mindful eating with full concentration. And it instantly makes the fear of eating alone go away since your focus is on your meal instead of my insecurities.
3. They Meditate
Mindful people practice meditation. The mindfulness meditation practice is mainly just a dress rehearsal for the real-world event. For example, you might find that sometimes you explode in a rage when someone does something that annoys or frustrates you. What a meditation practice does for a mindful person is simply helping the person recognize that the anger is arising before the explosion so that they can better control their emotions. Meditation isn’t just a one-time cure to try when you feel angry. The meditation practice should be daily so that during the day when things go wrong, you’re better equipped to handle the situation with a calm mind. Mindful people understand how meditation reduces stress and are aware of their thoughts, feelings, and troubles before they grow bigger, which helps them stay calm.
4. They’re Always Paying Attention
Being mindful is all about paying attention to the present moment. A mindfulness practice could range from mindfulness meditation to just noticing things happening around you. Living outside of your thoughts and in the real world is a key activity for mindfulness. In your everyday life, you’ll need to be aware of how you and others feel, what is happening, and simply enjoy the wonder of life. It’s so easy to lose track of time when we spend hours overthinking negative thoughts in our head. But in your own life, paying attention will help you find happiness, inner peace, and comfort.
5. They Listen
Mindful people are great listeners. Most of the time, the average person listens to respond. So you might find that you’re thinking what you’re going to say before the person even finishes speaking. However, a mindful person isn’t listening just so that they can respond. Mindful people listen to hear what is being said. And sometimes what’s being said isn’t only spoken in words. You also need to know how to read between the lines. If someone says they’re okay, you might study their body language and listen to their tone to know that they’re not okay. Mindful people also realize that not everything that is said needs a response or advice to be communicated. A simple communication practice that a mindful person might do is mirror what is spoken to help ensure that they’ve fully heard what’s been discussed.
6. They Notice Physical Sensations
Sit quietly for a few moments. Lie down if you need to. In this present moment, do you notice any physical sensations. Look for feelings throughout your body. Did you have a small headache you didn’t notice? Is there tension in your stomach? Are you breathing through your chest or stomach (stomach is the correct way). When someone practices mindfulness regularly, they’ll notice all of these sensations all the time. A quick meditation session can help you become more aware of how you feel physically (particularly a body scan meditation). People who center themselves will notice these feelings arise. It’ll help indicate when they feel uncomfortable about a situation, almost like a red flag to alert you that something’s off. So pay attention to the mind and body connection, as it helps you in the present moment.
7. They Practice Compassion
Mindful people practice compassion. Since they’re more aware of their thoughts and feelings, they can minimize the amount of damage done from their words. They’ll likely speak more kindly with others. And mindful people are also aware that others may be struggling if they’re listening more intently. Thus, they may show empathy, kindness, and compassion towards others because they can tap into the emotions of others. They are also less likely to be judgmental. For example, if someone is going through a tough time and takes it out on you, a mindful person will realize that the person would’ve snapped at anybody. And so they can detach from hurtful words said as they understand that there may be various reasons why someone becomes upset.
8. They’re Always Noticing Suffering
Embracing vulnerability isn’t easy for everyone. That’s why self compassion is key. However, we’re not just talking about your own suffering here. One of the things mindful people do differently is they also notice the suffering around them. When was the last time you helped someone who was suffering? Maybe you spent some time with a homeless person and bought their lunch. Or you volunteered at a charity that helps solve a huge problem in your community. You might’ve spent some time visiting a loved one in the hospital or helped around the home while someone was sick. It’s not just about noticing someone’s suffering but alleviating it too. Your precious life should be focused on doing acts of kindness or good deeds for others when they need it. It’s normal human tendency to run away from suffering, but instead, try leaning into it. You’ll make a difference that way.
9. They Get Outdoors
Mindful people go outside regularly. The world isn’t locked up inside your house. It’s out there and beyond. A mindful person loves being out in nature. They might go for long walks to observe animals running around, watching the ocean’s waves crash, breathe in the fresh air, feel a cool breeze on their skin, and become one with the universe. You likely won’t have earphones in your ears listening to music. Instead, you’ll be listening to all of nature’s sounds. Listening intently. What do you see as you’re out in nature? Are people smiling? Are animals playing? What color is the sky? What do you hear in nature? Do you hear airplanes flying by? Are people talking? Is the wind blowing? What do you smell in nature? Is the air fresh? Do you smell the grass? What can you touch? Is there sand nearby, what does the texture feel like? Are your palms sweaty during a run? What do you taste? Does the rain fall into your mouth?
10. They Focus on Their Breath
Mindful people focus on their breath. Last night, I was reading a book before bed. The night before, I woke up four times from nightmares. So naturally, last night before bed, I was feeling more anxious than usual. As I read one of the calmest books I could find, I spent the entire time reading doing deep breaths. Every time I read a paragraph, I would focus on my breath for a few moments to help me unwind in the evening. And I didn’t have nightmares yesterday. Mindful people may experience anxiety, just like everyone else. However, a mindful person will use mindfulness to help them cope with their anxiety. You can focus on your breath at any time of day. We all need to breathe to stay alive anyway. If you notice emotions arising within you, you can stop to inhale deeply and exhale strongly to help you naturally relax. It’s essential to focus on mindful breathing as it helps keep you connected to the experience of being alive in this wonderful world.
11. They have a beginner’s mind
You don’t need regular practice to have a beginner’s mind. It can be super helpful for new neural connections to live life like a beginner. Open to new experiences and overcoming obstacles, striving to develop a growth mindset. Beginners like mindful people need to pay attention when learning something new. Whether you’re learning the essential attitudes to do a job or how to manage difficult emotions, looking at life through the lens of a beginner can help you focus and pay attention. Stay curious about the happenings of things around you. Being curious is one of the most powerful ways to keep that beginner mindset to help you grow in unexpected ways.
12. They Do One Task At a Time
Doing one thing at a time is the trademark of mindful people. A mindful person isn’t obsessed with multi-tasking by doing twenty things at once. Even though a mindful person may have as many responsibilities as the next person, the way they approach those things is done mindfully. If they need to clean their home, they do each chore while living in the present moment. They may be looking at the floor; they’re sweeping with great attention to ensure they clean all crumbs and dirt. If they’re folding laundry, they use the time to practice meditation and fold the laundry while being present in the moment. When they speak to someone, they’re not in their thoughts; they’re there with another person being attentive to the conversation. So you won’t find mindful people folding clothes while talking to a family member. They’ll likely stop folding clothes and begin immersing in the conversation with their loved one. Practicing mindfulness in everything you do can be difficult. However, by focusing on one thing at a time, you ensure that you’re doing something well and attentively.
13. They Practice Self Care
Good moments come to those who practice mindfulness, but they also come to those who practice self care. When a negative thought arises in your mind, how do you handle it? Do you treat yourself with self compassion? Or do you ruminate on the thought? Self care covers everything from being kind to yourself to treating yourself well. Are you eating foods that nourish you or make you feel sick? Do you exercise, even when you don’t feel like it, to stay in shape? One of the things mindful people understand is that their responsibility is to keep themselves alive, happy, and safe. So doing activities that protect your mental and physical health is key.
14. They Know When To Disconnect
Mindful people know when to disconnect. They can tell when negative emotions begin to arise. For instance, maybe you’ve read the news. And of course, the stories are rarely about all the good things happening in the world. And so it can drain your energy, make you anxious or upset – or worse outraged. The world we live in today has a significant outrage problem. And it usually comes from the type of content created by media outlets. They’re trying to elicit emotional responses out of you. However, mindful people might choose to avoid the news, disconnect from the internet, or carefully select what they connect to in the first place. They avoid impulse checking updates about things like negative news, celebrity gossip, and other harmful content. Mindful people might also have a set time that they close their laptop or phone for the evening. They may turn to exercise, reading, or talking to family members before they go to sleep.
15. They Know When to Be Optimistic
Mindful people know when it’s the best time to be optimistic and when pessimism is needed. According to the book Learned Optimism, pessimism is best when the long-term outcome is unknown. It’s also good to be pessimistic when it comes to how realistic you want to be. Studies show that pessimistic people are sometimes more accurate about things than optimistic people. However, optimism is better suited for almost every other situation. A mindful person is likely mostly optimistic though carefully becomes more pessimistic during specific situations. For instance, a social worker might tell a person with PTSD, “tomorrow won’t be better” when asked, “What can I do to make tomorrow better?” And that doesn’t mean you’ll never have a good day again. It simply means that there isn’t an overnight therapy cure to something as serious as PTSD.
16. They Avoid Social Media
Mindful people also avoid social media. The problem with social media isn’t that you can connect with people you love or check in to see how people are doing. That’s the upside to social media. However, there are a couple of problems with social media that can cause mindlessness. For one thing, the ability to endlessly scroll is often done mindlessly. A mindful person could easily fall into that trap as well as those endless scrolls also known as doomscrolling were designed by psychologists. So it’s best to avoid them altogether. Another problem with social media is that most don’t just check once a day. No, instead, they check their social accounts multiple times a day to see if there are any new updates. Mindful people likely practice a social media detox to limit the amount of social media content they consume. It’s important to live in the world outside of your phone, as that’s where life takes place.
Mindful people live in the present world attentively. They limit distractions like social media and the news. They pay close attention to things that others do on autopilot, such as chores or eating. They step out into nature, unplugged from their phones, to notice the beauty of the world around them. Mindful people listen attentively and communicate mindfully too. Do you identify with these traits of mindful people? Or are you just starting your journey of practicing mindfulness and looking to see what mindful people do differently? Let us know in the comments below!