What is the difference between “mindful” and “mindless”? When we think of someone who is mindless many examples come to mind, the zombified look on a midlevel executive waiting inline at Starbuck’s to order his Venti espresso, or the hypnotized 20 something pecking at his smart phone while walking down the street with their ear buds in. And, most importantly the worn out parent thumbing it on a smart phone as their toddler smashes a jar of pickles on the target floor. Yes, I’ve been this parent. I have caught myself in a mindless state. I think we all have. however, what does it mean to be “mindful”? or, to have a full mind?
The definition of mindful is to be conscious or aware of something. A mind in which we are aware of who we are and how we see others. To be mindful is to think outside ourselves and to be grateful for our time, our family, our health. To be mindful is to seek knowledge to expand our understanding. The definition of mindless is to not think or something so repetitive it can be performed automatically without thought or skill. So, what do we want to be? Do we want to be a Dad that performs their duties without thought or skill? Do we want to be Mindful or mindless?
The mind is like a muscle. Instead of having the ability to lift heavy weights or cruise miles, it’s what molds our perception. The mind like a muscle can be trained, it can be neglected and it can be broken. In a world filled with over stimulation, such as long lines, traffic, and other buffers at times we see little mindfulness. we need to work on being mindful. A full mind will help mold your perception toward the better and keep you from falling into the mindless.
Mindful thinking starts with observation or awareness. look around, be there, be present. Awareness of your world will help shape your thoughts and your actions. Ever become slightly annoyed when the guy in front of you slams the door in your face as he walks unaware of your existence? Yes, this is mindless at its best. Don’t be that guy. Be aware that other people are just like you, they exist and they matter. Especially your family. Be aware of what your kids like, what they are drawing, what TV shows they enjoy and the foods they love. Never be the kind of father that forgets a birthday or doesn’t recognize what scene of star wars your son is recreating. Be mindful of the ones you love. The ones you love lead me to the next element of mindfulness.
To be mindful is to be grateful. To show gratitude for all that you have. If you are mindful you will show appreciation for the ones around you, such as your friends and family. Understanding they are a huge part of who you are. The people around you mold your perception. And your perception drives your action. To be mindful also means to be grateful for what you have accomplished and what you are striving to accomplish. Which brings me to the third element of mindfulness, seeking.
To be mindful is to expand your understanding, to grow and improve. To be mindful is to seek. The mindful will show eagerness to learn and to set new goals. Avoid banality, or exposure to the same thing time after time. Complacency is mindless. To set new goals is to be mindful. Looking to improve your health, your education or your knowledge is to be mindful. Set goals every so often and work at them, once accomplished find another one. And, always appreciate the journey. Always show interest in improving and learning. We all have room for it and we are never done learning.
Fill your mind with experiences, information, and relationships. To be mindful is to take stock of the moment and process your experiences and look forward to new ones. Sometimes we become so clouded with the challenges of parenting, we forget to be there. Our minds drift off into another place and before we know it, the moment has passed. You’ll never get that moment back. Mindfulness is something we have to work on. We also needed to project mindfulness onto our kids. We see mindlessness as we walk around and see our world. And, we become annoyed with this mindlessness. Yet, sometimes we fall into mindless acts and forget to be mindful.