This Wednesday — Quiz: How mindful are you? I’m not very.

Every Wednesday is Tip (or Quiz) Day.
This Wednesday – Quiz: How mindful are you?

As preparation for my Happiness Project, I did a lot of self-examination to figure out what goals to work toward. I knew that one quality I needed to cultivate was mindfulness – that is, my open, conscious awareness in the present.

And I have been trying to be more mindful.

But it wasn’t until just yesterday, when I read this questionnaire, that I realized just how mindless I was.

This questionnaire, the “Mindful Attention Awareness Scale,” appears in an interesting paper by Kirk Warren Brown and Richard M. Ryan, The Benefits of Being Present: Mindfulness and its Role in Psychological Well-Being.

I can absent-mindedly report that I answered “yes” to every single question, except #13.

Zoikes!

The more often you answer “ no,” more mindfully you live. How do you score?

1. I could be experiencing some emotion and not be conscious of it until some time later.

2. I break or spill things because of carelessness, not paying attention, or thinking of something else.

3. I find it difficult to stay focused on what’s happening in the present.

4. I tend to walk quickly to get where I’m going without paying attention to what I experience along the way.

5. I tend not to notice feelings of physical tension or discomfort until they really grab my attention.

6. I forget a person’s name almost as soon as I’ve been told it for the first time.

7. It seems I am “running on automatic” without much awareness of what I’m doing.

8. I rush through activities without being really attentive to them.

9. I get so focused on the goal I want to achieve that I lose touch with what I am doing right now to get there.

10. I do jobs or tasks automatically, without being aware of what I’m doing.

11. I find myself listening to someone with one ear, doing something else at the same time.

12. I drive places on “automatic pilot” and then wonder why I went there.

13. I find myself preoccupied with the future or the past.

14. I find myself doing things without paying attention.

15. I snack without being aware that I’m eating.

Mindfulnss can bring many benefits. It brings clarity and vividness to present experience. It may help people end unhealthy habits and patterns. It can enhance a sense of well-being and calm troubled spirits.

This questionnaire is also useful because its questions suggest specific areas for improvement. I’m going to try to walk more mindfully; eat more mindfully; listen more single-mindedly; and not multi-task.

My Resolutions Chart will need an update!

*
I was looking for a particular Louis Armstrong quotation about jazz, and I found this terrific site, Out of the Way, dedicated to jazz quotations. I spent a blissful twenty minutes mindfully enjoying it.

*
New to the Happiness Project? Consider subscribing to my RSS feed: Subscribe to this blog’s feed. Or sign up to get email updates in the box at the top righthand corner.
If you’re starting your own happiness project, please join the Happiness Project Group on Facebook to swap ideas. It’s easy; it’s free.

Other posts you might be interested in . . .

  • Scary… I answered way too many of those questions with, “Only when I’m driving.” I can be very mindless while driving, though I try hard to pay attention. I often end up taking the wrong freeway, missing my exit, or exiting for no reason. Ungood!

  • Kim

    What a timely post. I have been working on applying mindfulness to various aspects of my life–food, finances, emotions–and achieving great personal growth as a result. Just over the past couple days I have been thinking about how I am not always “present” with the people I am with. Now it’s time to really practice mindfulness when communicating or just being with people, whether in real life, on the phone, or through email/internet.
    Thanks for the reminder!

  • Jecca

    Eek! I was only able to say “no” to number 6 and sometimes 7 or 10.

  • Lisa

    What is that picture? It is totally distracting!

  • The photograph is by Edward Weston, one of my favorite artists — also, his DAYBOOKS are fascinating to read.
    Michelle — I think that one reason that I’m scared to drive is that I find it so hard to stay focused. Sometimes I’ll awaken with a jerk, and realize that I’ve been driving for 15 minutes on automatic. Terrifying!

  • You do that too? I do that a lot on the interstate in long trips. I wonder how in the world I did not have an accident, because I remember none of the last 15 minutes. Acutally, I can’t recall doing that in a long time.
    This is a very timely post for me too… Although I haven’t been calling it “being mindful” it is the same thing. Really it is about seeing the big picture. We are so preoccupied with nonsense that we don’t see what is truly important.
    We teach people in our SFT classes to see the big picture and to recognize something you don’t like immediately so it doesn’t go “unnoticed” and reak havock on you.
    Also, I am reading this EXCELLENT book right now called Time Power by Charles Hobbs that makes you mindful and in control at all times. I recommend it to EVERYONE!!! It is now my favorite book.

  • Have you happened to watch your one minute movie lately? I just watched it for the first time. Boy does it fit with this post!

  • Nancie

    I answered all but four of them with a yes…not so great. This is an area I have been trying to work on. Right now I’m reading both of Eckhart Tolle’s books..the Power of Now, and A New Earth (both for the second time.) I’ve come to realize that if I want to live in the moment I have to be mindful. I’m also understanding how difficult that can be, and when you succeed…totally rewarding.

  • Mindfulness and meditation are two things that I don’t think I’d be much good at, and that — for better or for worse — are not currently on my “to do” list of self-improvement projects.

  • I answered the questionnaire with explanations on my own site. Suffice it to say, I’m definitely not mindful! I knew that about myself, but it’s a bit unsettling to have it outlined like that. It’s something I have to work on. One of my Happiness Commandments (which I don’t think about nearly often enough!) is “embrace being here.” The meaning of that has shifted since I wrote it, but now it means exactly that — embrace being here and now, where and when I am, rather than mentally being somewhere else all the time. I’m happier when I can focus on what I’m doing, so why don’t I do that more often? Habits are just so hard to break.

  • I’m a very mindful person when I focus, which I attribute to meditation and Yoga. Both tools have given me awareness that when applied works wonders.
    I do have days that just don’t feel good and I crawl into a shell. I’m working on staying in the moment and just being aware, but sometimes it’s hard.
    Do you practice any mindful techniques to open your awareness?

  • Adrian

    Just listened to a podcast on Mindfulness as a form of cognitive therapy for depression, substance abuse and chronic pain. Based on the work of Kabat-Zinn, who was referred to in the article you were reading.
    What I learned was that there are (at least) 2 kinds of mindfulness. The first is being aware of your internal and external environment (emotions, sensations etc). The second is being aware of your direction – what the things you are presently doing are leading towards. Although that relates to the future, it’s important to realize the (likely) consequences of your decisions and actions at this moment.
    The other aspects of mindfulness the podcaster highlighted were to do with how we react after we have focussed on the present moment. We should try to be patient with our feelings – instead of immediately going “Argh! What am I doing! Why am always like this?” we should just allow the feelings to tick along, and be aware of them.
    Then we should try to put those feelings in perspective. Are they really as bad as we think? Or are they actually more important than we would like to think?
    Finally there is choice. Just because we feel desperate, does it mean that we “must” have a drink, or rage, or any other negative reaction?

  • What Is StumbleUpon?
    StumbleUpon is a social network
    in which people ?stumble? onto random websites at the click of a button. You can
    easily submit your site and receive plenty of hits for free with StumbleUpon. If your website is popular enough, it could get steady traffic from StumbleUpon
    over the course of months!
    The fantastic thing about StumbleUpon as apposed to other sites like Reddit and Digg is that the user is randomly brought to your site, and won?t avoid your
    site because of the title you made or the keywords you inputted. It is
    completely blind to people?s natural reactions of what to click and what not to click, giving you traffic.
    Okay, Great? So, how do I make money off of them?
    read more … here http://www.asian-school.net/2008/04/01/making-thousands-with-stumbleupon/

  • that’s relative for me, I’ve try to become flexible and adaptable
    The other aspects of mindfulness the podcaster highlighted were to do with how we react after we have focussed on the present moment. We should try to be patient with our feelings – instead of immediately going “Argh! What am I doing! Why am always like this?” we should just allow the feelings to tick along, and be aware of them.
    The meaning of that has shifted since I wrote it, but now it means exactly that — embrace being here and now, where and when I am, rather than mentally being somewhere else all the time. I’m happier when I can focus on what I’m doing, so why don’t I do that more often? Habits are just so hard to break.

  • I’m afraid that after some years of practicing mindfulness I still need to answer yes to many of those questions.
    It is a simple and powerful concept (or practice) and yet so difficult to do.

  • Angela Driggers

    I answered yes to every single question except #1 and that is a “maybe”. But I have always known I was absent minded. I literally would forget where I parked at Wal-mart every time I went. I had to start parking in the same spot every time so I wouldnt forget. I often realize something somone has said to me minutes or even hours later and have to go back and say…”I just realized what you said”. One day at work a co-worker asked me for a ride home. I left work, w/out her and did not even realize that I had left her until I got home and she called me. I dont know if or when I would have ever remembered if she had not called me. Its very frustrating to feel like I am getting alzheimers at age 35!