"Without mindfulness we risk living life by default rather than by design." — Jonas Cain
I felt so small the day one of my teachers called me a moron in front of the entire third grade class.
Looking back now, I don't believe she actually meant to hurt me; it's just that she wasn't being mindful of her words.
I had three third grade teachers—Mrs. Hunt, Mrs. Elliot, and Mrs. Courtemarsh—and though they all had their own classrooms, the three rooms were technically one big room, separated by built-in retractable wall dividers. To travel between the rooms, instead of going out into the hallway, we would simply walk between the gap in the wall in the back of the room.
I became so accustomed to walking through the gap in the back that one day, when it was suddenly a much smaller gap, I didn't think twice before squeezing myself through to get to the other side—without even noticing the HUGE gap that was now in the middle of the wall! The teachers had opened up the wall between the rooms, and I didn't even notice it! I was completely oblivious!
And isn't that so often the case? We can get so accustomed to our default routines that we simply aren't mindful of what's going on around us, even things that should otherwise be seemingly obvious—like a kid mindlessly squeezing through a gap in a wall, or a teacher mindlessly lashing out with hurtful words when she sees a student squeezing through that same gap.
When we remember that there's more than one way to get where we're going, and more than one way to say what we needs to be said, we empower ourselves to live life by design rather than by default—and in so doing, open ourselves up to bigger opportunities and more positive relationships.
What might you do to bring more mindfulness to your everyday actions and interactions?
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Jonas Cain is an educator, facilitator, and coach, working to engage, empower, and encourage leaders and the people they serve to experience joy.