Pursuing a state of mindfulness and maintaining a mindful mindset in your daily life may seem like a challenge, especially with all the distractions around us and within us. It can even be tempting to fall back on old habits, which don’t require our full efforts and attention. This not only takes us away from the moment, but also limits our productivity and total success.
A recent article by Northcentral University shows that reading improves both stress and concentration, in effect helping you to tune out the bad (temptation) and tune into the good (productivity). Because reading comprehension requires a full mental effort, as opposed to films or music which you can tune in and out, the act of reading is like a mindfulness exercise.
However, it’s not only the act of reading that has an effect, but also the content that is read, which can have a compounded effect on the reader. The Mayo Clinic draws a link between positive thinking and success, as well as longevity, so it is important that if you choose to read, that you focus your full attention on something positive rather than something negative.
As for what to read specifically, that mostly depends on your personal tastes, but there is a new genre of reading that not only applies to almost anyone but can also have a profound effect on your life – the mindfulness genre. By reading on mindfulness, one can learn to minimize stress and maximize productivity, both through the content and also in the act of reading itself.
If you’re starting your mindfulness practice from scratch, you might want to check out The Little Book of Being by Diana Winston. With decades of experience in meditating and teaching meditation, Winston has the unique ability of drawing your attention into learning her practices, all in effort to preserve your energy and bring you back to a fresh, childlike state of mind.
Whereas Winston takes an inside-out approach to mindfulness, Jenny Odell takes a more outside-in approach in her book, How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, in which she demonstrates that despite our best efforts to be mindful within, we really have to be more mindful of the many distractions around us in order to achieve a smoother state of living.
One of the distractions around us, eating, is the topic Jan Chozen Bays’ book Mindful Eating on the Go, which discusses the dichotomy of food as a source of both fuel and pleasure. What’s ultimately important, according to Bays, is to learn to separate the two, so that one can receive the full benefit of foods’ power for fuel and for healing of both the body and soul.
Mindfulness is no longer an isolated branch of eastern medicine but rather a legitimate complement to western psychology, as evidenced by two 2019 books: the science backed Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, about riding out the waves of emotions, and Mark Coleman’s From Suffering to Peace, offering a concrete path to peace through suffering.
For those in the workforce, there’s Jerry Colonna’s Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing Up, which focuses on “radical self-inquiry” toward living out your aspirations. If you’re in a leadership role wanting to reduce stress for yourself and company, you should read Joe Burton’s Creating Mindful Leaders or Marc Lesser’s Seven Practices of a Mindful Leader.
Mindfulness reading has a lot to offer outside the workforce as well, as evidenced by the comically titled How to Stop Losing Your Sh*t With Your Kids, written by Carla Naumberg. With a PhD is Social Work, Naumberg teaches parents or prospective parents how to ride the storm of parenting and transmute your stress into the energy you need to be an effective parent.
Once you’ve got your attention span back on track, you might want to use your newfound focus to take in further positive content, from biographies of successful leaders and businessmen to creative writing, fiction and poetry. Or perhaps you can use that focus toward an improved mindfulness practice or capitalize on it whether at work or for the benefit of the world.