Latest posts by Joey Doherty, MA, LPC, CWC (see all)
- What’s Missing from Conventional Mental Healthcare - April 17, 2016
- Nature Deficit Disorder - March 9, 2016
- 12 Psychological Benefits of Houseplants - January 31, 2016
Here I’ll be offering a mindfulness trick for so many of us who:
- Find life to be uninteresting from time to time
- Just go through the motions, acting more like robots than lively humans
- Would describe ourselves as chronically busy
If that sounds like you, here’s a little trick for a more enriching life that I teach my clients:
When you sit down for dinner each evening, think of the coolest things you saw, heard, touched, tasted, and smelled throughout your day. Better yet, if you’re eating dinner with someone, tell them all about those things. If you’re the type of person who likes to journal, an alternative exercise would be to write down the coolest things you saw, heard, touched, tasted, and smelled that day. Be sure to go through each of the basic senses, and commit to doing this each day for a week.
You’ll likely find that it’s difficult to come up with answers for some or all of the senses, reminding you how little you pay attention to this amazing world. To make sure that you’ll have answers come dinner or journal time, you’ll have to approach the next day with eager eyes, ears, hands, tongues, and noses. This will require you to slow down the pace of your life, so that you can actually notice life’s wonders. You’ll become an amateur adventurer, exploring the day with nothing but your five senses and a curious mind.
Instead of just letting life pass you by day after day, you’ll start using all of your senses to fully experience life. You may start seeing beautiful trees and colors on your morning commute to work that you never noticed before. You may hear the beauty in your partner’s voice that you’re usually too busy and stressed to pick up on. You may realize that there’s something magnificent about the way a tree’s bark feels against your fingers. You may start to taste new and delicious flavors in meals that you’ve been eating but not enjoying for months. You may realize that your morning coffee or tea can smell as good as it does around a campfire, just by using that brilliant nose and mind of yours to their full potential.
Before you know it, you’ll wake up to a playground called Mother Earth that you can’t wait to explore. After all, we have the most brilliantly crafted lenses for eyes, the most advanced computer for a brain, and the most impressive headphones for ears. We are born explorers! Explorers are curious, and curiosity is depression’s worst enemy.
When we’re intentionally noticing the world with our senses, we’re focused on the present moment, so it’s impossible to also be worried about the past or the future. Multitasking is a myth. We are not capable of doing or thinking more than one thing at a time. Period. Depression lives in the past, anxiety lives in the future, and life lives in the present. We get to choose which one we let into our lives.
If we slow down enough, life is the way it’s meant to be – full and vibrant.
Try this exercise for a week. If you’re like me, you’ll keep it up after a week because being an amateur adventurer is just too much fun.