It's the start of another new year. People are heading out to start new gym memberships, drink less booze, and lose some weight. But I'm taking a lighter approach this year. My January will be spent playfully learning how to be more mindful.
That's right. I'm starting at the beginning. Before I worry about being more efficient or using my phone less, I'm just going to practice seeing the world for what it really is and becoming more aware of how I think and feel about that world.
I'm going to start with mindfulness and see where it takes me.
See, this is part of my Play your Way Sane system. There is a different improv-inspired lesson each month. And January starts at the beginning: being in the moment and becoming more present and aware.
And the way I'm going to practice being more mindful is by playing what I call everyday games. They're silly, simple games that will help you become more mindful of your environment.
I hope you'll play along with me this month. It's cheaper than a gym membership (read: free) and it's a much smaller commitment than most resolutions.
Here are six everyday games that will help you set the stage for a happier and healthier new year. Here are six games that will teach you how to be more mindful this month.
1. Take a Hike
Instead of heading to the gym this January 1st, why not just head outside and take a hike?
This everyday game is pretty simple. You just need to get out of the house and pretend you're on a nature hike. You can be walking through a Target parking lot or Times Square. It makes no difference.
But instead of getting trapped in your thoughts, I want you to really focus on what's going on around you as if you're on a nature hike.
Instead of ooohing and ahhhing at flowers and trees, you might be marveling at trash bins and curbs. Doesn't matter.
But you need to keep it neutral. Don't get negative on your so-called nature hike. Remain bipartisan.
"Look at that hot dog stand." "Wow, a Zara." "Ooh la la, it's a lot of mailboxes all sharing the same mailbox stand."
Take a Hike will help get you out of your head and into the real world. A perfect first step for a more mindful month.
2. Take the Long-Cut Home
This everyday game asks you to revel in taking detours. Instead of rushing from point A to point B, I want you to start creating self-imposed detours.
Take the long way around your block or park in the Best Buy parking lot to go to Target.
This way, you break the habit of mindlessly locomoting from here to there.
Oh, and if you find yourself in a real life, actual detour, I want you to try your damnedest to not let it get to you.
Life is uncertain and often doesn't go smoothly, so practice enjoying the detours this month.
3. Call It Like You Sees It
This everyday game comes straight from improv rehearsals the world over.
The next time you're going anywhere, I want you to literally point to things and call them whatever it is they are. "Sidewalk, crack, mailbox, tree, house, bus."
That's it. Point and name.
Nothing creative or revolutionary here.
But Call it like you Sees It should do for you what it does for improvisers. It should help you to get out of your head, stop overthinking, and start noticing what's actually going on around you at this very moment.
And if that's not mindfulness, I don't know what is.
4. Call It Like You Don't
See a lamp, window, and dog? You could say, "hat, water, and furnace."
You're not trying to be funny or creative. You're simply calling things the wrong name.
Some people find this strangely difficult, since we're so used to aiming for accuracy.
But I hope it frees you up and opens your mind.
5. Nope, Try Something Else
I've heard meditation explained as watching your thoughts roll by like clouds.
This next everyday game is a more militant version of that concept.
I want you to start noticing your thoughts. If you want to think of them as clouds or ships or birds, that's on you. But the point is, we have to start taking stock of what we're thinking.
Then, the next time you hit on a thought you're not that into, don't judge it or beat yourself up about it.
Instead, you're going to literally say, "Nope." And then try some other thought whenever it decides to show up to the thought party.
Thinking about your bills again? "Nope!"
Wondering when the mail will arrive? "No thanks!"
Trying to figure out what you will say to Lizzo when you meet her? Ummmm...this thought seems okay to me. I'd hold onto it.
The point is, you need to tell those pesky thoughts "no" whenever they become pesky. And then free your brain up for some other thoughts.
6. The Museum Game
This is a brand new everyday game. You're welcome!
I'm a little embarrassed to admit it, but I'm not a huge fan of museums. I mean, I walk around and pretend to look at things, but I'm usually just going through the motions.
So I created this everyday game to help myself out.
The next time you're out and about, I want you to pretend that the whole world is for sale, darling. And then you window shop and decide what your favorite item is.
Let's go back to my museum example.
When I'm in a museum, I pretend all the artwork is for sale, and I'm super rich, so I have to buy something because of tax write-offs or something. So I really take my time and select the right item.
And just like that, the museum has gone from snooze-ville to amazing-town.
You can play this game at the zoo, in a park, in your yard, or even at an actual store where things are for sale.
I get how this game has a lot of late-capitalism yuck factor, but it really does help me get more engaged in what's going on around me.
Play your Way More Mindful and Subscribe Today
The whole point of Play your Way Sane is to provide you some fun everyday activities to help you become more mindful, joyous, and connected. So I hope you'll play along with us and keep us posted on your progress.
Oh, and by the way, I challenge you to The Mindfulness Challenge--these 6 games in 18 days to get more mindful and enjoy the moment. Try it out and let me know how it goes. Email me, tweet me, pin me, message me on Facebook.