Mindfulness = the program through which the established societal consensus convinces laypeople that the discomfort they are feeling is internally caused, and can be solved by focusing more on internal resolve than fighting for real righteous change that threatens the power structure.
Mindfulness is all the rage these days, can’t stop hearing about it. Everyone in Silicon Valley is meditating for productivity and better mental health. Mindfulness is for mental health as wellness is for physical health. Also, they’re both a sham.
Mindfulness is essentially a marketing tool people use to promote themselves and their personal brands on social media. “I’m the type of person who meditates,” they broadcast. And it’s always a broadcast. Mindfulness means nothing on it’s own. Sure, you can say you have a mindfulness practice, but that says nothing about your intentions, be they good or bad. If you have to go through life telling people constantly what you are doing, you are actually doing it for yourself, not for them. Nobody is ever going to remark spontaneously and unprompted “how mindful” someone is.
It only occurred to me the other day how strongly I feel about this and why. The fact is, people think mindfulness and thoughtfulness are the same thing. And they just have to be mindful enough to be seen by others as thoughtful. However, these words mean very different things. Mindfulness is a practice you take on primarily for yourself. It can be self-soothing for adults to meditate, to enhance their relationship with the world around them in silence and focus. This is not an inherently bad thing, but it doesn’t make you a better person. It might, however, make you FEEL better, even though you may be behaving badly. Mindfulness offers no incentive to grow or do better.
Thoughtfulness, on the other hand, takes no extra time in the day. It’s not something you have to meditate on or tell everyone you know that you’re doing. Could you imagine that? Tech bro walks up to his buddies and let’s them know he started a thoughtfulness practice over the weekend. Not really. But here’s the thing, rather than self-soothing, being thoughtful will make you behave like, and ultimately become, a better person and you won’t even have to advertise it; your friends and acquaintances will see it for themselves.
Thoughtfulness infuses every decision you make in a day with consideration for others you care about. Whether you believe it or not, you do make a lot of decisions. Every decision can be laced with empathy, thinking about how your decision will affect others, and when you get good at being thoughtful, you will be able to come up with win-win solutions to problems before the problems even present themselves. As a result, people will be drawn to you because you make them feel good, like you have their interests at heart.
I am of the opinion that mindfulness has taken off so much primarily because incentives, primarily financial, in “real life” lead people to be less thoughtful. If you can’t live with yourself for doing less than thoughtful activities just to make a living, the least you can do is color your presentation of self as something more “woke” than it is. If you are able to make a living from thoughtful activities, you will not experience the cognitive dissonance you would otherwise feel from the separation of true self from presentation of self.
So, to put it another way, when you are thoughtless, you might use mindfulness to cover up for that fact to yourself and others, but this practice cannot be sustained in perpetuity. Mindfulness simply prolongs and postpones the inevitable, the true reckoning that comes when you can no longer carry on the double life, presenting yourself one way while truly being something different. On the other hand, when you are thoughtful, you feel good about yourself without having to talk about or promote what you are doing. You simply are more considerate of others and your actions will reflect that to all you interact with. Who you are and what your actions broadcast show more alignment, which ultimately makes your life easier without any more work. We could all use more of this, please!