The concept of mindfulness is quite popular today; a quick google search will show you page after page of different practices, meditations, and courses available on mindfulness. The American Psychological Association Dictionary of Psychology (APA) defines mindfulness as the awareness of one's internal states and surroundings, used "to help people avoid destructive or automatic habits and responses by learning to observe their thoughts, emotions, and other present-moment experiences without judging or reacting to them." (APA, 2007). There has been a lot of intriguing research into mindfulness practices and their effects on neurological processes and mental health. One exciting area of research is the effects of mindfulness practice on overall happiness and well-being in daily life. This topic was explored further in 2017 by Strick & Papies, where they studied the connection between implicit motives and mindfulness (Strick & Papies, 2017).
Stick & Papies argue that many people are not fully aware of what truly motivates them or makes them happy, leading them to make poor decisions that leave them dissatisfied and disengaged (Strick & Papies, 2017). They specifically looked at the implicit affiliation motive, which they describe as the enduring, unconscious motivation to create and maintain harmonious social relationships (Strick & Papies, 2017). They hypothesized that a brief mindfulness exercise leads people to align their choices with their implicit affiliation motives (Strick & Papies, 2017).
Participants then completed two sessions of a mindfulness-based body scan exercise, which trains participants to guide their attention to different body parts and to observe and accept the sensations in an open and nonjudgemental way (Strick & Papies, 2017). Sessions were followed by a scenario describing the start of a new study program where participants had to select and rate the number of goals they could pursue during the program on a questionnaire (Strick & Papies, 2017). They hypothesized that the mindfulness practice would increase the predictive value of the implicit affiliation motive on the selection and motivation towards affiliation goals to be pursued in the scenarios (Strick & Papies, 2017).
What can you do with this information?
Why not start an experiment where each night for one week, you self-reflect on how satisfied you are with your current goals and progress. The next week, once each day, perform a mindfulness-based body scan. Sit quietly and slowly scan your body from part to part, acknowledging how you feel without judgement. At the end of the week, reflect on your goals and progress. Determine if you think they are serving you, what changes you could make to improve satisfaction and improvement. Continue this process for as long as you feel it is helping you, or start a new experiment with a different mindfulness-based exercise.
Strick, M., & Papies, E. K. (2017). A Brief Mindfulness Exercise Promotes the Correspondence Between the Implicit Affiliation Motive and Goal Setting. Personality & social psychology bulletin, 43(5), 623–637. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167217693611. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5414900/
VandenBos, G. R., & American Psychological Association. (2007). APA dictionary of psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Retrieved from https://dictionary.apa.org/mindfulness