A Simple Habit that Can Change Your Life
The present moment is where you live, 100% of the time.
But it often doesn't feel like we're "living in the moment" at all. We're constantly getting ahead of ourselves -- thinking about Friday when it's Tuesday, and thinking about Monday when it's Sunday.
In modern culture it's quite normal to live in our heads like this -- and to suffer the normal consequences: worry, stress, absent-mindedness, boredom, and self-destructive habits.
It causes us to experience most of our moments on autopilot. When you're wrapped up in thinking, you're not open to the deepest kinds of human experience: appreciating natural beauty, connection with others, and the sense of peace you get when you're fine just where you are.
In college, I was experiencing some of the worst symptoms of over-thinking. I was disorganized, stressed, and had poor self-esteem. Even on my days off, I had trouble enjoying myself, because my mind was already skipping ahead to Monday and all its problems. I knew that I had to take control of my circumstances or life would eat me alive, but I just didn't have the confidence or wherewithal to do that.
Relief came in the form of an idea that was revolutionary to me at the time: life unfolds only in single moments. It turns out I didn't have to find a way to control my circumstances and my future, I just had to learn how to live intelligently in the present moment.
I began to experience unexpected moments of extreme peace, in which I was completely happy even though I still had deadlines, unsolved problems, and frequent setbacks. When those future events did eventually arrive, I was calmer and better able to deal with them.
I just became more receptive overall -- more open to nuance and beauty, and the possibilities available in each moment. I began to enjoy an increasing sense of peace and personal freedom. I had found a much better way of relating to my life, regardless of what was happening in it.
This is a quality that can be cultivated. It's called mindfulness, and it's the most valuable and versatile skill you'll ever learn.
Mindfulness is nothing new to humanity, but it's fairly new in the Western World. It developed in the East, and so many people think it's a religious or mystical activity, or that you need to be a Buddhist to do it.
This isn't true at all. Anybody can do it and it doesn't require any new beliefs. It's just a way of relating to the present moment in a conscious and deliberate manner, so that you spend less of your life lost in thinking and reactivity. It allows you to make peace with being exactly where you are -- which is great, because you're always where you are!
Because it gives you a clearer way to deal with any moment, the benefits are diverse and far-reaching. Here's a few of the things it can help you do. I have personally experienced all of these benefits, and a lot more:
I could go on. Mindfulness can help you do virtually anything better, because you're no longer dividing your attention between your actions and your thoughts, and because you're more receptive to learning as you go.
Once you begin to practice mindfulness you'll notice benefits specific to your own line of work and lifestyle. You might notice you're having better interactions with your clients, or your kids. Or you may notice you don't get bent out of shape over a bad round of golf any more.
No -- becoming mindful itself isn't hard. But making a habit out of it can be, if you don't have a strategy. We're very highly conditioned to live in our thoughts, and overlooking the present moment is second nature to us.
There are already countless books on mindfulness, but they tend to focus on rigid Eastern practices, and that's just not something the majority of people are interested in. Yet mindfulness is perfectly applicable to everything we lay-people already do -- working, playing, interacting with friends and family, and moving through the world.
It's called You Are Here: A Modern Person's Guide to Living in the Present. It's a full-length guide everyday people can use to bring mindfulness to their lives, without rearranging their schedules or joining an organization.
I want other people to experience the kinds of truly life-changing benefits mindfulness has brought me. In You Are Here, I've spelled it all out -- everything you need to know to begin applying mindfulness to your life, right away.
You Are Here is a comprehensive guide, but the approach is simple.
The purpose of You Are Here is to show you everything you need to get to a sustainable habit of daily mindfulness in about a month. Once you've established these recurring points of mindfulness throughout the day, it's easy to become present more frequently and for longer periods.
The guide is centered around about a dozen simple, easy practices. You don't have to take any additional time out of your day to do these practices -- you can do them while you're going about your normal routine. Do only the practices that appeal to you -- making a habit out of even one of the practices will make a significant difference in the amount of peace and ease you experience in your life.
There are two keys to making habits out of these practices:
1) You attach the practices to simple actions that are already habitual for you, such as putting on your shoes, getting in your car, or dialing your phone. This makes mindfulness a regular habit very quickly, without the uphill battle of beginning a habit from a standing start.
2) The practices are short, simple and often fun. This isn't like trying to make a habit out of going running at 5:00 in the morning. The practices are simply better, easier, more effective ways to do what you already do, and they will leave you with several mindfulness habits in a short time.
"David Cain has produced a wonderfully easy to follow guide to being more mindful in everyday life. He has stripped away the religious periphery around mindfulness. When we do that, what’s left is a simple technology for training our minds and bodies that science has shown to reduce stress and enhance wellbeing."
— Dr Lee Hulbert-Williams
No — You Are Here focuses on simple practices that relate to everyday actions, and does not require any dedicated sitting meditation. However, meditation and mindful living complement each other very well — each makes the other easier, and amplifies its benefits.
Most people who are interested in daily mindfulness will eventually want to learn meditation. Frustratingly, because it is so new to the West, many of the books on meditation present it as something tricky, weird, boring or difficult.
It doesn’t need to be any of these things. Meditation is just something you do with your mind, and doesn’t require any spiritual pretensions.
I want people to understand this, and for that reason I wrote a second guide, called Making Things Clear: A Brief Guide for People Who Think Meditation is Hard. It’s designed to get you from “What the hell is meditation?” to being able to meditate on your own in just a week or so.
You Are Here is normally $37 and Making Things Clear is $19. Right now it's $35 for both.
I genuinely believe this will be the best small purchase you ever make. Mindfulness has absolutely transformed my life, as regular readers of my blog know. I've put it all down here for you, in plain language, with practices that are simple and easy to apply to your existing routines.
I take great pride in my work and I know you will love it. But you don't have to believe me. You can take 30 days read it, use it, look it over, and if you don't find it helpful or you just don't like it, I'll happily refund your money.
So here's the deal. For the price of a forgettable restaurant meal, you will get:
Be reading in minutes.
All prices in USD. GST included for Canadian residents.