“Life is hard. Not because we’re doing it wrong, but because life is hard,” (Glennon Doyle Melton).

Think about it. Do you agree or disagree?

This was the opening thought in a breakout session of a 4-H conference that I attended last week. The answer? It depends on your perspective, I guess. I’m not sure if I agree or disagree with this statement. What’s important is that you spend time being mindful and thinking about it.

I love attending conferences, usually, and I get really excited about learning and new information. But what I had not previously recognized is that I really enjoy thinking about things in a different way.

For example, one of our keynote speakers discussed longitudinal research that she had done on democracy. She showed years of data on seemingly Republican and Democratic issues and how they historically voted. The charts explained the differences in urban and rural communities and why we have a “winner take all” attitude in our country.

For many people, especially the millennial generation, there is a growing doubt that democracy is the best way to be organized.

Not being very politically-informed, I’m not sure that this information would have made a big impact, but Dr. Paula McAvoy from the University of Wisconsin–Madison offered an idea that caught my attention. She said, “If we spend our time with the same like-minded people who generally agree, creating intolerance,” that is why we have a “winner take all” climate.

I don’t know that I’m explaining the concept perfectly, but it was a suggestion that I had never thought of previously. Not being big on conflict or disagreements, I’m not even sure that this idea would have ever occurred to me.

Maria Walker from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln presented several techniques for diffusing defensiveness such as the “three-way mirror.” Intentionally stepping back from a problem and asking yourself a few questions can be useful. “What is my perspective on this topic? What is the other person’s? What would an observer see?”

Dr. Michelle Krehbiel shared information on mindfulness or what she called “no-duh research.” “It’s not really surprising that if we are more mindful, we are going to benefit in health, focus, relationships and in so many other areas.” “The rocket science part of this concept comes when we learn how to be mindful,” Krehbiel continued.

I am a big fan of being intentional in my work and in my relationships, so this is a practice that I could see helping me in my stressful, sometimes chaotic life. I started doing more research on the topic. I found books, magazines, blog posts and research promoting mindfulness. Honestly, it was a little overwhelming!

The following is a simple list of beginning a routine of living more mindfully from www.mynakedego.com.

1. Begin your day with a short meditation.

2. Express gratitude each evening.

3. Take three conscious breaths whenever you remember.

4. Commit to thirty minutes of physical activity each day, taking notice of how your body moves and feels.

5. Consciously eat your food, taking notice of flavors and textures.

6. Allow emotions to exist without labeling or judging.

7. Accept people and events as they are without trying to change them.

8. Let go of controlling behavior. Be comfortable with not knowing.

9. Stop resisting! Especially if you don’t enjoy something.

10. Take inspired action daily, but let go of expectations.

Need a mindful minute? What do you see? What do you hear, feel and smell? What do you taste? Fill your senses and your worries will disappear and you will feel relaxed.

Challenge yourself to think of things differently and be more mindful.

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