Does mindfulness have negative side effects?
I’ve been sharing a lot of mindfulness tips on Instagram lately, explaining how you can bring more happiness and peace into your life when you focus fully in the present moment. One of the examples I gave was a video of myself vacuuming my house. I said when I vacuum, my thoughts are simple and focused on the activity:
Well, now I’d like to talk about the potential downsides to living in the moment and being mindful.
Because life isn’t always rainbows and unicorns. (Sigh) The other day, my daughter and I made cookies to bring to a playdate. We made the dough, rolled it out, and used cookie cutters to make all kinds of animal shapes. We were fully present throughout the whole time, enjoying each others' company and the joys of baking (especially sneaking bites of dough!). Then we put the cookies in the oven. And we walked away…me to vacuum and she to play. Just like I said in that earlier Instagram post, I was engrossed in vacuuming. I was enjoying the fact that I can clean my house, that I have a vacuum that I like, that I was taking care of my home. In fact, I was being SO mindful of vacuuming that I completely forgot I was also baking cookies. It wasn’t until I got to the kitchen with my vacuum cleaner and was standing in front of the stove that I remembered the cookies. When I opened the oven door, I saw they were all burnt to a crisp.
Arrgh! After determining the cookies weren’t redeemable — despite my daughter’s plea to just slather them with icing — I thought about the irony of the situation:
I was so caught up in the now that something else (which was equally valuable) fell to the wayside. Did that mean mindfulness wasn’t a worthwhile goal? Have I been steering my clients down the wrong path? Here’s where I landed on those questions: Being mindful is absolutely a valuable quality to incorporate into your life.
By focusing on the one moment you’re experiencing — even when it’s an otherwise mundane chore — you’re able to release so much anxiety, depression, and other thoughts related to the past and the future.
You’re able to find JOY in the NOW, no matter what you're doing. And that’s exactly what I did, with both the cookie baking and the vacuuming. So I’m proud of that mindfulness. And I wouldn’t change it for the world.
So I’ll take the burnt cookies any day if it means I get peace of mind and joy in return.
If you've experienced a similar situation, take heart knowing that a little absent-mindedness here and there is worthwhile considering all the benefits you get with mindfulness.