Mindful eating? How about mindful living?

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image courtesy pixabay.com

Having just come across yet another article that implores us to be mindful about our eating to see the results we are seeking, I started to wonder why no one talks about Mindful living?

What can mindful living look like?

  • Knowing what was important to accomplish this day when I woke.
  • Taking time to reflect on the day just lived before going to bed at night
  • Avoiding those rash decisions which usually leave me wondering what I was thinking about, of course, I wasn’t thinking!
  • Having set priorities for my day, I would realize I had plenty of time for “me”
  • I would want to have only the best experiences, to enjoy each moment.
  • By living mind fully, I would never find myself zoned out in front of a TV screen watching something I didn’t care about in the slightest.
  • I would take time to surround myself with the people I love more often. It is through our connections with other that we find real happiness.
  • I would be more aware of the results of my decisions to the environment around me.
  • I would make getting enough sleep a priority.

Our basic needs must be met first

I realized I had learned a very important piece of information during my college years.  I’m talking about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. If we take a moment and look at how we are living today you may find, like I did, that we have been trying to satisfy the wrong needs in our lives.

Maslow’s hierarchy of Needs states that we need to satisfy our most basic needs before we can attempt to satisfy the next level of needs. Take a look at these needs in order, missing a key component will leave you feeling that something is missing in your life.  When we feel something missing, instead of trying to find out what it is, we attempt to fill that need with the first thing we can think of, whether it is more food or more demands on your time. By attempting to fill the void in our life we move away from mindful living to find we are even more unhappy, many times finding ourselves deeply in debt as well.

  1. Physiological needs: Include food, water, shelter, oxygen, sleep.That’s it, nothing else. These cost so little to us but we forget these are our basic components in living.
  2. Safety needs: We need a sense of security in our surroundings
  3. Love and Belonging needs:  To feel accepted and loved.  We also need to give acceptance and love to others. This covers everything from intimate and working relationships to belonging to a group or organization.
  4. Esteem needs: Feeling that we are worthwhile, and the need to believe others respect us.
  5. Self-actualization needs: Realizing your full potential. When you realize what work or hobbies satisfy you, you will do everything  you can to find the time and knowledge needed to include this in your life.

How can this help when our world is so crazy today?

It’s pretty simple, when you stop to think about what you need in your life you will also notice all the things you don’t need to be happy and content in your life. Let me explain what I mean.

In Maslow’s Physiological needs, the first level,  there are only five things I need. Three are actually close to free.  The air I breathe is free and healthy air is cheaply maintained in my environment when I avoid chemicals in my home.  Water is close to free as well, I do filter my water so that costs a little but not much.  Sleep is free. Sure we could spend a fortune for a new bed and bedding, but if we are truly tired we could sleep just about anywhere.

If I go through each of the five levels of needs I can see that I could have everything I need in life for little or no cost. There are only two items which will cost me money, shelter and food. But can I meet my needs with less? Yes.  Can I grow more of my own food? Can I live in a smaller home? The answer is yes. So why are we worried about how much money we need to make? I hear frequently (and have been known to say this as well) “I need to earn at least X to be able to survive”. Do we really?

Take a look again at the list. What isn’t on that list?

  • Money
  • Televisions
  • Expensive furniture
  • Jewelry
  • Things

Get the idea? All those material things we think we need to be happy aren’t any where on Maslow’s list of needs. Why not?   Look around your home, what could you get rid of or give away and still be happy? I found a lot of “things” in my home I was cleaning and caring for that I didn’t need. So I got rid of them and began to simplify my life.

Living a mindful life

If I keep this list of needs close by it will remind me to live a life mindful of what’s important to my well-being. I can make better choices in my life and realize more happiness than I previously thought was possible. It’s also a good tool to have handy when we begin to declutter our lives. 

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