A Flexible Mindset

We’ve all watched the scary movie in our heads called: What’s going to happen?

What’s going to happen if I can’t get the project done on time? What’s going to happen if I mess up my presentation? Or even, what’s going to happen if I miss the train?

But that isn’t real. It’s a script created by our deeply personal bank of worries and fears. Repeated viewing can have a powerfully negative impact on our mental and physical health, relationships at home and productivity at work.

It’s no Notting Hill.

So, how do we look away from our daily dose of the doubts?

The key is flexible mindfulness – the ability to shift our minds away from a loop of negative or pointless thinking. Training your mind to be more in the moment is a very real way of stopping emotions and random thoughts from intruding on your life.

It’s simple science. Better mental performance and flexibility are “intimately linked” to levels of mindfulness, according to a plethora of studies.

The two skills you need to develop for a sharp, clear, mindful mind are focus and awareness. Focus is the ability to concentrate on what you’re doing in the moment. Awareness is the ability to recognise, and look away from, unnecessary distractions.

Our minds wander, on average, an extraordinary 47 percent of the time, including when we’re at work. So, when we’re trying to complete an important task, we’re actually thinking about something else almost half the time.

We’re much happier when our minds are grounded in the moment. There’s a strong, proven link between a wandering mind and personal unhappiness.

Mental flexibility is closely related to mindfulness and is also critical to your mental performance and happiness. The most effective leaders and managers have the ability to adapt, with agility, to the multiple needs of the people and situations they cope with every day.

Mindfulness can help you work flexibly in the face of constant change, let go of worries and fears, and accept and overcome problems that pop up in your path.

How exactly do we train our minds to be more mindful?

Be aware

When mental drift happens, actively return your thoughts to the here and now. You might try visualising a red stop sign every time your mind wanders. When your focus moves away from what you’re doing, simply round it up and bring it back. Do it over and over, until it becomes a habit. Develop your focus like a muscle.

Stop multitasking

Science says that when you’re jumping from one task to another — instead of working on one after another in a clean sequence — it takes 40 percent longer to complete the same number of jobs. Focus on one thing at a time and see how it goes.

Write it down

Seeing thoughts expressed in words removes their emotional punch. You’re then able to evaluate them more rationally to determine whether it’s actually the end of the world — or just a minor setback.

Breathe deep

Taking a moment for deep, considered breathing can calm your thinking and become a cue to help you cast unwanted thoughts aside.

Have a break

If you can, take mini breaks and refocus. Go for a quick walk and centre your mind on only what you can see, feel and hear in the moment. Choose one activity a day to perform in a mindful way. If it’s eating lunch, focus on the taste and texture of your food. If you’re outside, feel the air on your skin. What beautiful and joyful things can you see and hear right now?

Look online

Looking for something more? There’s a wide selection of mindfulness meditation apps to help bring your attention back to the now.

What’s going to happen? is a terrible movie. You’ll be happier, healthier and more productive once you stop watching it.

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