The creator of bullet journaling, Ryder Carroll, has called bullet journaling “a mindfulness practice that’s disguised as productivity system.” This style of journaling ties into several mindfulness concepts in that it teaches us to cultivate non-judgmental self-awareness. As a self-help tool that also boosts mental health, it falls squarely under the wellness umbrella.
Bullet journaling is an incredible way to “track the past, organize the present, and plan for the future,” explains Carroll in his how-to video. Looking around, you can see so many people aren’t really present in the lives that they’re living. They’re unconscious, unaware, out-of-touch with themselves and others. Plus, they’re not taking the steps that they could to create the best life possible.
With bullet journaling, you’ll start becoming more mindful without any special study, but you might want to explore other mindfulness techniques. Why not? You could discover a new way to create a life that brings you great relationships, enables you to meet your goals and sets you free from the pain of relentless anxiety.
Mindfulness: Getting Started
Mindfulness means that you’re specifically in the present. When someone is mindful, they’re aware of and paying attention to the moment that they’re in, not mired down in the past or future.
When you practice mindfulness, you focus your mind purposefully. Have you ever driven from one place to another and at the end of your destination, you weren’t aware of the sights you saw or how you arrived there?
If so, you weren’t practicing mindfulness. It’s the same concept with every area of your life. You can go through life on autopilot. This means that you can sit down and have a meal, but because you’re not practicing mindfulness, you won’t even be aware of what you had to eat in terms of portion or even the pleasure of tasting it.
This is why you can eat something and then wonder later on what it was that you had for dinner. You have to stop and think to remind yourself. The reason that you can go through life and miss things is because the mind has a tendency to blank or go through the motions when you’re doing something you’ve done numerous times before.
Mindfulness is putting a stop to allowing the mind to simply wander unchecked. It means that you direct your mind back to focus on whatever it needs to focus on. When you don’t practice an awareness of your thoughts, you can go through life and miss out on having the best life you could have.
The art of using mindfulness has its roots in Buddhism and the practice has been around for thousands of years. Not only was it practiced to enhance spiritual connectivity, but also to bring calmness, focus, and improve the brain’s ability to think.
Today, many studies have shown that there are multiple reasons why practicing mindfulness can help you create your best life. There are physical health and emotional well-being boosts that can be had when you practice mindfulness.
When you become aware in the present moment, it can soothe your emotions and help strengthen your immune system. The use of mindfulness is tied in with many forms of meditation that are designed to bring self-awareness and rid the body of negative thought patterns.
Mindfulness helps center the user and cause him to choose to live fully active in today rather than focus on the past or get caught up in what might happen in their future.
Mindfulness Can Help You Make Better Choices
You might be surprised to learn that some of the choices that you make in life, you’re making without being fully aware in the present. When this happens, the choices that you make aren’t really the ones that can give you the best outcome.
This can impact your entire life. But when you practice mindfulness, you can make better choices and change your life to let it become the one that you’ve dreamed of living.
One of the areas where mindfulness can help you make better choices is in the area of eating. Plenty of people eat countless times a day without ever giving a second thought to what it is that they’re doing.
This is because it’s easy to eat while you’re busy with things unrelated to eating. You don’t have to focus on putting fork to mouth in order to accomplish this task. You learned how to do it at a young age, so you can multi task easily.
It’s easy to eat while you’re reading, while you’re talking on the phone or while you’re watching a movie. What happens then is that you miss being in the present while you’re eating.
It means that you miss out on the taste of the food, the pleasure that you could derive from it – and this can also lead you to make poorer food choices in terms of the types and quantities of food that you’re consuming.
Plus, when you eat without practicing mindfulness, it can be easier for you to not connect the emotions to what you’re eating. That means if you’re an emotional eater, lacking mindfulness can cause you to eat more and not be aware of what it is that you’re eating that could be sabotaging the health or the body that you want.
But if you practice mindfulness, this practice can help you learn not to link your emotions to food. Another area where mindfulness can help you is in your relationships.
When your relationships are good, it can help make you feel better physically, lessen stress and contribute to your happiness. Mindfulness can help you have harmony in your relationships.
This is because you won’t feel as stressed, so whenever there’s an issue, you won’t immediately react to what you perceive is going on. By being mindful, you’ll be focused on being present during the interaction with the people in your life.
What this will do is help you better understand what someone else is saying and feeling. It helps eliminate the defensiveness that can be at the root of many relationship problems.
Mindfulness can help you respond to relationship interaction in an appropriate way. You’ll be able to be in the moment with the other person, not throwing out the past or burdening the two of you with what might happen in the coming days, weeks, months or years.
You’ll be focused on that one moment, giving them all your attention, rather than having your mind be a thousand miles away. Mindfulness helps you tune in to the people in your life.
Being mindful helps you be more empathetic, which makes you more in tune with how the people in your life are acting by seeing the emotion behind the action and behind the words they speak.
It helps you not be as defensive and not react with ingrained thought patterns that can be so damaging to relationships. You’ll be able to leave your personal baggage at the door and interact with the other person based on truth, not personal perceptions.
When you practice mindfulness techniques, it can also help you make better choices that impact your productivity. By using mindfulness, you can stay aware of the present rather than focusing on what’s coming later.
Being aware of where you are right now works to increase your focus. When you’re unfocused, it’s too easy to let your mind start to think about what else is coming your way that you have to get done.
Mindfulness helps you accomplish tasks by keeping you on track. It can be easy to start working on something, only to start thinking that maybe you forgot to respond to a phone call, or you forgot to write an appointment down on the calendar.
So off you go to deal with these other tasks and before you know it, you’ve lost productivity. When your mind jumps from one thought to another, you can end up not being as effective and causing a rise in your stress level because you haven’t been able to get things done.
Staying in the here and now is what mindfulness can help you with. When you can focus, you’ll make better productivity choices and you can create the best life for yourself.
Being Mindful Is a Natural Therapy for Improved Mental Health
For the brain, mindfulness can be an action that can help keep the mind focused on the good rather than letting it dwell on all of the negatives. You know how an untrained puppy will run around when you take it outside?
It doesn’t want to listen because it’s not focused on you. There are too many exciting things outside – like the wind pushing a leaf across the grass, the neighbor’s dog, a car passing on the street or kids out playing.
In a flash, the puppy takes off after the leaf or the neighbor’s dog or heads toward the street. Because the puppy hasn’t been trained to focus, anything goes, and he could very well end up with some negative consequences.
Just like something detrimental can happen with an untrained puppy, a mind that doesn’t practice mindfulness can also experience negative consequences. When you allow your mind to go off on any thought process, you can bet those thoughts won’t always bring you a positive return.
Your mind will start to think about situations that caused you anger in life. You’ll start thinking about wanting to get even. You’ll feel sorry for yourself that your life isn’t like someone else’s, who seems to have everything.
Before you know it, you’re on a cycle of negativity because your mind was allowed to go there, to dwell on thoughts that produce negative feelings. Whatever the mind dwells on can either help you have good feelings about your life or it can introduce bad ones.
When your mind isn’t practicing mindfulness, it can wander off into thinking about things that cause you to feel stressed out. It can cause you to feel anxiety. You might experience a rise in anger and become bitter.
Left alone, the mind that’s not focused with mindfulness can lead you to bouts of depression. Practicing mindfulness is something that can help you focus on being present and can alter how the past affects you.
Mindfulness keeps you centered on today, not yesterday and not tomorrow. There are various techniques using mindfulness that can help improve mental health. Among these are mindfulness stress reduction and mindfulness cognitive therapy.
Common Techniques for Mindful Practices
There are several techniques that you can use to harness mindfulness. The first one is meditation. Most people are familiar with the basics of meditation. To practice mindful meditation, you need a comfortable place to sit down.
Be aware of how you’re breathing and center your focus on the moment that you’re in. Concentrate on your breath, paying attention to your inhaling and exhaling.
Mindful meditation is different because when thoughts pull you away from the moment, you concentrate on your breathing, stop and refocus. During this time, you should have a non-judgmental attitude toward whatever it is that runs through your mind.
It might be hard to keep your mind focused if you’ve had a habit in the past of allowing your mind to wander when you’re trying to concentrate. Besides meditation, you can choose to practice the mindfulness technique of deep breathing.
Taking breaths isn’t something that a lot of people are aware of. We do it without thinking about it. But when you practice deep breathing involving mindful techniques, this can relieve stress, boost your energy levels and help you achieve calmness.
One technique is achieved by breathing through the nose in short breaths for a few seconds. This practice can help to give you a mindful awareness that returns your focus to the present.
Another technique is to count the deep breaths that you take for a few seconds. You would focus on breathing in through the nose and exhaling slowly through the mouth.
The object technique is used in mindfulness to help raise the level of focus that you have. To do this practice, you pick out any item near you and focus on that item.
Your awareness should only be about that item such as a vase or a chair or whatever other object you choose. You keep the focus until that item is all that your mind centers on.
When your thoughts start to drift away, you consciously pull them back to the item that you’re looking at. Walking is another technique used in mindful practices.
Make sure that you’re in an area where you can walk unimpeded. Place your focus on what’s around you. Take in the five senses that are present in your surroundings – such as what you can hear or smell or see.
Breathe normally and be aware of how you pick up your foot and put it down as you take a step. Focus your thoughts on how your feet feel as they connect with the walking surface.
Pay attention to how your body is working as you walk. Keep your focus on the movements that you make as you walk, including swinging your arms, the speed you walk, and more.
Snapping Yourself Out of a Past or Future Focus
What’s already happened is long gone. No one can change events or emotions that have already passed. It’s human nature to look at the past and feel nostalgic, or even fearful or angry, but the trouble comes in when we focus on the past and let it guide our present actions, rather than living in the present moment.
When that happens, you miss the chance to create your best life and you’re settling either for the pain or the glory of what used to be. A life of potential fullness can easily be lost by looking at life in the past.
In the same way that focusing on the past can limit your ability to have your best life, so can focusing on the future. The future isn’t here yet. You don’t want to waste the quality of the present on what might happen in the future.
Usually, what you focus on for the future, when it arrives, is different from what you thought it would be. To have the best life possible, you need to aim for keeping your focus solely on the present.
It’s true that everyone can have times where the past or the future seems to be all they can focus on. But you can change that. You change it by living in the now.
When you’re working on something, don’t work on several things at once. When you’re eating, don’t do anything else besides eat. When you’re spending time with someone, don’t split your thoughts by trying to pay attention to the other person while at the same time opening mail or answering an email.
Don’t always be thinking about what’s coming next. Be in the present fully aware of your actions. Slow down. Don’t try to zip through life at full speed to get stuff over with.
Stop overcrowding your day by multitasking your way through everything. You’re not really getting more accomplished because you’re not able to give one single thing your complete attention.
Stop packing so much into your life because too many things will cause you to suffer from a mental frenzy. This happens when you take on so much that you feel as if you don’t have time to think.
Take a break on purpose. It’s rare that people can simply be instead of doing. For a set amount of time every day, stop. You might have heard the phrase “take the time to stop and smell the roses” and this is the same principle.
Take the time to stop and be present. Don’t do anything during your time of stopping but drink in your surroundings. Notice the day. The scents on the air. The beauty around you.
When you take the time to practice mindfulness, it allows you to not only create the best life you could ever dream of, but you get to savor it, too. When you begin practicing this process, you’ll notice how many others are not living in the present, and you’ll be grateful that you’re no longer chained to the old way of living.
Pin to your Bullet Journal or Mindfulness board!