Mindful Living Challenge

Have you ever been in a room, listened to a speaker with a group of friends or co-workers, then come out of the room to find you all heard something different?  Only one person spoke to the group, everyone heard the same words, yet each person went away with a different experience.  Why?  Because we all have different perspectives and life experiences which impact what we hear.

Over the summer I experience this exact thing, only this time there were only two people in the audience and both of them were me.

Here’s how it happened.  Back in June I attempted to do the summer 4 week mini-challenge offered through the 8 Weeks To A Better You! blog.  I thought I was ready.  I’d made pretty good progress in the previous challenge, so I figured another one would only improve things.  Although I started off strong and was eager to do the challenge, one thing after another happened and it ended up not going so well.  To say I crashed and burned would be an understatement.  It was so bad that I quit tracking my points and eventually quit trying altogether.  I’d done so poorly that I figured there was no point in even trying to finish it. I beat myself up quite a bit over my outcome, so much so that I was pretty certain that I would never do another challenge.

But time passed, which gave me time to reflect on the experience and figure out what went wrong.   A week or so ago I saw a blog post notifying that there will be another challenge starting Sunday, September 2nd.  This time it’s not a 4-week mini-challenge, but a full, 8-week challenge.

At first I thought, “No way, not again!”  But then something clicked.  My perspective changed.  I realized that what went wrong on the last one was that I was coming from the wrong place, doing it for the wrong reasons.  I was trying to improve myself, but not with the right frame of mind, I wasn’t doing it mindfully.

Confused?  I was looking at the challenge with the goal of checking things off, so the outcome, or shall we say, side-effect, would be to become a better person.  At the end of the day I would tally, “… didn’t eat sugar, didn’t eat junk food, got 45 minutes of exercise, did something nice for someone else…  done, done, done and done. Cool, 10 points for the day.  Good for me.  Look what I can do.”  Although I did get something out of the challenge, like I said, it was more of a side-effect than the focus.  Some days it clicked, some days I just went through the motions.  My goal was on the destination, not the journey, to get everything done, not to actually experience doing them.

With that perspective in mind, I realized that this new, 8-week challenge is a perfect opportunity to practice living mindfully.  The core of the challenge, while worded differently, is to live mindfully.  Be mindful of what you eat, be mindful that you’re getting enough exercise and rest, be mindful to spend a few minutes each day to enrich your faith, be mindful to take a few minutes for yourself to reflect and be mindful of how you interact with others.

Funny, isn’t it?  The challenge is the same but since my perspective has changed, it feels like an entirely new challenge.  So, yes, I will be doing the 8 Weeks to a Better You Challenge, but this time I’m going to take the challenge with a different perspective.  And when I read the word “challenge” I’ll think “practice”.

With this new perspective on the challenge I’m very optimistic that it will go well and while I’m excited for the new challenge to begin, it’s a different excitement.  This time I’m excited for the opportunity to practice living mindfully for 8 weeks.

Kate

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4 Responses to “Mindful Living Challenge”

  1. It’s awesome that you’re doing it. “Challenges” stress me out :P. But I hope to get some inspiration from you in my own”mindful living” journey. Do share your progress and experiences for the “common good” 🙂 And Good Luck! Remember, don’t beat yourself up – I believe the first step is to be kind to yourself.

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