A Plan for Living Mindfully

I have been treating a woman in her forties with a long history of depression. She is newly improved, and focused on learning to live mindfully. Over several sessions, we mapped out what changes she might make to create the mindful life she wants, and her list is strikingly universal. I sat back and re-read what we had crafted, and thought, "Wow! I should be doing every one of these!" I thought readers might feel the same. With permission, I have reproduced the list here:


Physical fitness

I will get up and move. I will avoid just sitting, staring mindlessly at my phone anytime I can. I will walk and stand and be aware that movement is vital to good health. Moving will make my body feel strong and healthy.


I will take care of me. I will do this by listening to my body when it tells me I need rest, or that I need to slow down. I will treat my body like a temple. I will say “no” when necessary. I will set limits, maintain boundaries, and refuse to endure what harms me. I will delegate. I will regularly take time off from working, buy the things I need to feel comfortable, and take quiet time alone. I will go for a massage or see the chiropractor or go to the salon if these things are helpful to my well-being. I will do these things as acts of self-love.


I will go to bed when I am tired, or as soon as I am able. I will no longer stay up to please others, out of guilt, or because I am staring mindlessly at my smartphone or television set while exhausted, half asleep. I will nurture my body with sleep as an act of self-love.

Healthy food

I will eat whole, natural, unprocessed, unpackaged, and unpreserved foods. I will primarily eat fruits, vegetables, nuts, berries, meats and fishes, the things made in nature for me to eat. I will insist that the foods I eat are clean. I will no longer routinely put poisons like artificial sweetener into my body, but will instead nurture the temple of my body with the nutrients it deserves. If I eat junk, I will do so mindfully, with attention to the effects on my body and with known, true purpose in accepting my choice (for example- having pizza as a special treat at a gathering with friends).

Manage Drinking

I will mindfully observe and make sound choices about my consumption of alcohol. I will not drink to soothe myself after a tough day, but instead will drink thoughtfully, with attention to the negative effects of over-imbibing. I will not make a routine, daily habit of alcohol use. I will not turn to alcohol as a substitute for dealing with my emotions or for being truly connected to the people in my life.

Body positivity

I will love my body. As my body ages and changes, I will accept those changes without judgment or insecurity. I will not dwell on images of an ideal body, or the body of my youth. Instead, I will thank my body for its strength and service to my spirit.

Get to family special events

I will make time. I will plan in advance. I will not allow the pull of work that is never done to result in my absences from school plays or family gatherings. I will be present when awards are received. I will not feel guilty for taking time away to do these things.

Family time

I will make time to share special family events. Family movie nights, family vacations, and one-on-one time with kids once in a while will be prioritized. I will stop working, and tune in when we are together. I will get home early when I can so that the family can have a spontaneous shared moment together.

Spouse time

I will make time to tune in, be present, and connect with my love. I will remember that his needs are important, and that sometimes the work can wait. I will show him that I appreciate his incredible, selfless contributions. I will put away my laptop and my smartphone, and we will talk and listen to one another. I will do this daily, because without my love, nothing else in my life works as it should.


I will make time to be the friend my friends deserve. I will create a community around us, and stay connected. I will gather and laugh and call and chat and not forget the importance of friends, even when I think I am too busy. There is always time.

No Complaining

I will stop complaining. I will no longer make small talk that is negative and focused on the negative things in my life. I will do this for my self and for others. I will speak positively, or I will hold my tongue.

No phone checking

I will stop mindlessly checking my phone. I will plug it in across the room, and leave it there. I will take care of my business on the device when necessary, and then I will promptly put it away. I will ensure that I don’t stare mindlessly by remaining ever mindful when the phone is in use. “Why am I using the phone?” “Am I staying present, rather than zoning out?” “Am I burning time doing nothing, or accomplishing a useful task?”

Accept feedback

I will accept feedback non-defensively. I will take in the feedback with a long breath, and let it sit. I will not resist it, but instead I will receive it fully. I will have gratitude for the feedback that comes, not anger or resentment. Feedback improves everything I do. Without it, I am stagnant. I will allow the feedback to help me grow. I will know that feedback is an honor and a gift.

No gossip

I will no longer gossip. I will not whisper in secret with friends and co-workers about some person not present. I will speak with purpose and respect, or not at all. I will speak of others as I hope others will speak of me.

Take responsibility for my mistakes

I will raise my hand and say, “It was me,” when my mistake is identified. I will not defend myself blame others. I will not make excuses. I will accept responsibility for my actions, and let my mistakes improve me.

Take responsibility for my role in conflicts

I will take responsibility for my role in conflicts with others. I will mindfully acknowledge when I have reacted due to emotions, or when I have acted out in frustration. I will accept that my flaws lead to conflict. I will accept my part in misunderstandings and wrong assumption making. I will not blame others nor explain away my part, but instead I will own it fully. I will do this internally and externally.

Charitable giving

I will monitor my annual charitable giving, and I will increase it to a steady percentage. I will not be reluctant to give, and I will not worry that giving could deplete my resources. I will know that in giving, I shall receive. I will know that when we give, what we have given return to us multiplied. I will know that I have been blessed and others have not, and I will give as an act of gratitude. I will give money and time.


Is anything missing from this list for your mindful life? What would you add?



Posted on September 5, 2016 .