The idea of mindfulness has become a popular theme in our culture today. We hear the word being tossed around in various forms, but do we really know what being mindful means? The concept can seem a bit simple at first but as you start to practice it you will find both how difficult and powerful it can be.
In its simplest terms, mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. We can achieve mindfulness by bringing our focus to the present and being conscious and aware of what's going on around us. When you build on that process, you will be able to successfully add awareness of your thoughts and feelings without judgement and be fully present without feeling overwhelmed.
The positive benefits of practicing mindfulness are plentiful. By consistently clearing your mind, you may come to find that your overall stress levels have decreased. In addition to lowering your stress, mindfulness can positively affect symptoms of depression and anxiety and improve general health and overall wellbeing.
Now that we’ve covered what mindfulness is and some of its benefits, it's time to learn how we can apply this practice to our everyday lives:
To be consciously aware of how you are feeling, you will need to spend some time training your focus. Once you have focused your attention the difficult part is keeping it there. You will find that your mind quickly begins to wander, connecting one thought or emotion in the moment to other thoughts about your past or future The key is to quietly acknowledge that those distractions are happening but try not to let them occupy your mind or take away from the present moment. This type of attention will require repeated practice, so be patient with yourself as you build it into your life.
As you learn to be mindful of the way you think about and approach life's choices, you will have to also work to stop your mind from judging or rationalizing what you’re feeling. By acknowledging what you are truly feeling in a moment, you can then start the process of understanding how a particular moment is affecting you and use that learning to your advantage. Our mind can often affect your ability to see clearly, but when you begin to let go of evaluations you are making in the moment; anxiety and other emotions that are driving that will begin to lift. A great way to battle the possibility of anxiety while practicing mindfulness is to find yourself in a non-judgemental state so you can allow your mind to feel more balanced.
Mindfulness is not something that can be achieved overnight. Be patient with yourself and your practice by respecting and acknowledging all of your thoughts and feelings along the way. You've got this! And with great practice comes great rewards for your overall well-being and state of mind.
By now, you may be wondering what the connection is between mindfulness and money management. We believe that an essential part of spending well is being aware of the emotions and experiences that are affecting how and what you are choosing to spend on. Before you buy something, try asking yourself: “why do I want to make this purchase?”. You can begin to acknowledge in the present moment what is driving the decision, and if this decision will lead to a purchase you will feel good about. This simple question will help you think about the value you will be getting from a purchase before you make it, helping you to eliminate purchases that will obviously be regretful for you.
In Wellspent, we ask you to reflect on each transaction you make. This is a moment to think about how that purchase has made you feel after the fact, without judgement or rationalization. By paying attention to this important signal you will begin to see patterns and opportunities to improve your spending choices. As you continue to practice regular reflection, you will begin to identify other ways to improve your spending choices. In this regard, the best way to think about Wellspent is as a tool to use to become more mindful and intentional with your spending, and ultimately learn to make better choices with your money. So as you begin using Wellspent, remember to use mindfulness to take your practice to the next level.
Learn more about mindful spending with Wellspent.
This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.