Mindfulness is a very broad term; there are so many aspects of mindfulness and so many different ways in which it can be practiced. With the rise in popularity of mindfulness, there have been more studies popping up about mindfulness and its benefits. One recent study set out to differentiate how different components of mindfulness impact us.
In this study, students aged 20-30 received mindfulness alerts on their smartphone 6x per day for 9 days. These alerts include things like questions about recent emotions, problems they encountered, and how mindful they had been. The questions were based on three “dimensions” of mindfulness:
- Present-Moment Attention
- Nonjudgmental Acceptance
- Acting with Awareness
Research findings discovered that each of these dimensions lead to different benefits for those practicing mindfulness.
This was the strongest predictor of increased positive emotions—the students who were more aware in the present moment indicated that they felt happier and better overall. Why might this be? When you allow your attention to wander it shifts to things like anticipation of future events or regrets about the past.
When you notice your mind wandering, try focusing on your breath or something in your current surroundings.
The ability to withhold judgments of your experiences and emotions was strongly linked to a decrease in negative emotions. This means not labeling your experiences as “good” or “bad” or placing labels on yourself and others around you and accepting everyone and everything around you for what they are.
Instead of thinking “that person is annoying,” change your mindset to something like “this person has asked me 4 questions in the last two minutes and is making it difficult to complete my work.” You’re still noting your emotions toward the person, but without judgment and without labels.
Acting with Awareness
Although you’ve probably seen mindfulness practices that ask us to do everything with intention and awareness, rather than on autopilot, this study actually discovered that acting with awareness has little to no ability to predict people’s positive or negative feelings.
So, if you want to feel more positive, keep your mind in the present moment. If you want to feel less negative, learn to accept without judgment.