Mindfulness and Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude
Mindfulness and Christianity are not necessarily at odds as some may think. Mindfulness and meditation are sometimes readily discounted in the Christian community because of an association with Buddhism. Mindfulness can be easily integrated into one’s Christian faith, however. Romans 12:2 states “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
We all have a tendency toward mindlessness which leads us to take things for granted. Part of that is due to living in a culture that constantly asks us to strive for more—more money, clothes, toys for the kids or things for our home. When we are focused on the pursuit of these goals, we can get stuck in a focus on the future. This can create an “I’ll be happy when…” sort of attitude. “I’ll be happy when I get a nicer car,” for example, completely skips over the fact that we have a car that gets us from here to there. “I’ll be happy when I lose weight,” is a concept that might keep us from appreciating our general health.
A quick check of the definition of mindfulness tells us it is deceptively simple. Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment. Becoming aware of all that is around us is a pathway to cultivating an attitude of gratitude. Even though paying attention to the present moment seems effortless, it takes practice. It is all too easy to mindlessly float from task to task throughout our day. Our busy lifestyles combined with a focus on future attainments can make it difficult to identify all that we have to be grateful for in our life. There are steps we can take toward mindfulness right now by tuning in to our breathing. Another way to sidestep mindlessness is to notice not only our surroundings, but also our body’s responses to those surroundings. Once we begin by taking moments throughout the day to focus on what we are actually doing, we are likely to find we are often involved in one task while engaged in thinking about something else. In the wise words of the character Ferris Beuller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”