Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Why Mindfulness Often Feels Rotten

Mindfulness is nothing short of amazing. It boosts our emotional health, reduces stress, makes you happier, and quiets negative self-talk. There’s just one problem.

It’s mind-numbingly boring. 

Shifting your attention away from your thoughts to your surroundings or activities is perfectly enjoyable when you’re doing something new and exciting. But if I’m alone filing my taxes, hanging up my laundry, or waiting for my oven to heat up, I’d rather hang out with my cheery feelings of inadequacy and existential dread.

It’s just stupidly difficult to feign interest in something you’ve seen and done a bazillion times. How many times can a sane person be captivated by observing their breath?

Luckily, there’s an antidote to the tedium. And it comes in the shape of a question:

What’s something new you can explore?

Mindfulness isn’t so much about enduring boredom as it’s about paying attention to the charm of the forgotten and overlooked.

It’s natural to grow weary of something you’ve meticulously observed one thousand times over. You can predict its every move. There’s no surprise.

Leaves rustle, ducks quack, and cars go vroom.

There’s zero shame in having no interest in something that certain spiritual gurus and new age poets find riveting. 

We’re all different.

Your job isn’t to develop a taste for the familiar, your job is to find out new unexplored territories within the familiar.

So what are some good places to start looking? Experiences that always have some novelty.

Perhaps it’s how the light bounces off your knife as you’re buttering your sandwich, what waits on the other side of your front door right before you pull it open, or the smell of the air as you leave your house.

The surprise likely won’t floor you. But because you can’t accurately predict what’s to come, it won’t be boring either.

Life is full of these tiny pleasant surprises. Mindfulness is about searching for them.

Happy hunting.

P.S. Yes, I know, no single moment or experience in this world is identical. They’re all unique. And it’s truly wonderful if you can experience the world this way. But if you have an unga bunga brain like me, you need a little help finding joy in the routine of the everyday.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach