According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of
explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. - anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. - anon
... Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument.
There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is
irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a
power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table
to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace,
reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants
us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. - anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Problem of Faith and Religion in Christianity




Introductory Comments

Adam Hamilton is yet another skeptical voice adding his own thoughts and commentary to interpreting the Bible generously for the 21st century even as we have here at Relevancy22. One that is as heartfelt as our own arguments for the same as we have toiled these past many years for a more progressive reading of Scripture that is more open, flexible, nuanced, and mature (cf. sidebars re "an open faith and open theology").

One that is based more upon a "anthropological reading" of the Bible than an "inerrant reading" of the Bible. A reading that is (i) not literal but historically contextual. (ii) One utilizing a literary, or genre-based, narrative reading rather than a flat reading across all poems, songs, psalms, hymns, legends, and stories, as it misses the multiple layers of meaning hidden within the complexity of its texts. And one (iii) more fully cognizant of the redemptive paucity of earlier civilization's interpretive acts claiming God's holy will for their own unholy acts of horrendous violence and cruelty, merciless barbarism and oppression. Acts met without mercy or forgiveness. Acts that were more human than godly when placed alongside the redemptive light of Jesus' interpretation of the Bible. An interpretation that erred in all doctrines and mindsets towards the greater love and mercy of the holy Creator-God become man's Redeemer by His Incarnate fellowship with earth and humanity.

For it was Jesus Himself who redefined all of God's Word through God's grace and humility. That the highest and best reading - or interpretation of the Bible - was to be read through God's grace rather than one with sword in hand. (This would include many of the church's present day doctrines of soteriology and eschatology as it marches along with its war-like imagery and assurance of dogma.) However, against this script many Christians have become more attuned to the "Jesus-attitude" of Scripture and are now asking themselves "What Would Jesus Do?" in all matters of life and will. Wishing to reframe God's missional tasks not in the terms of "religious conqueror" but in terms of "faithful suffering servant". That to love as God loves is to question our own ready interpretations of the Bible that are used to proclaim God's holy wrath and anger in mindful acts of inequality and discrimination through national policies, church polities, business practices, and personal conducts.

Foolishly claiming God's name in defense of His Word but acting out our own anger and wrath towards all those unlike ourselves in culture, race, and view. Let us not be so foolish as to claim "divine right of revelation" for what is rightfully creaturely sin, hate, and injustice. For a truer love, a truer justice, a truer forgiveness will cost us something. Something that we only can give up, sacrifice, offer, concede, or submit to. This then is when we become weak by God's own example through Jesus His Son who became the more empowered by the Holy Spirit for the greater extent of divine witness and salvation. It was not proffered by war and dominion, enslavement and oppression, but by the mightier reach of love and grace as displayed in the fuller weakness God's enlightening reach to those beyond humanities many uncrossable boundary lands.

As such, it must be God's mercy and forgiveness that must be the driving interpreters to His holy Word should we claim that we preach it, live it, and share it. That it is God's divine weakness as opposed to His divine power that is most attractive to Jesus' gospel message today. A message that can travel across all the shut minds and closed hearts of troubled men and women wanting more and not knowing what their spirits crave most and deepest and truest. For it was in God's weakness that Jesus became the most empowered by the Holy Spirit. That it was Jesus' resolute determination to throw off the shackles of an ungracious Jewish gospel in His day as it sought divine uplift and protection from Rome and all foreign gospels and yet denied Jesus' rightness of humanitarian mission towards those hated and despised within this same Jewish society. A society that would not admit outreach to the harlot, the tax collector, the slave, the Samaritan, nor Gentile, nor any other who lacked societal status or legal recourse to civil justice and equality under Jewish law.

And for this more generous interpretation of God's Word, Jesus was crucified at the hands of sinful man and fearful religious temple to be laid upon a cruel cross whereby He might there renounce in agony His vision of God's greater love before He died. A vision and decree that would unbind man from his shameful laws. His bigoted customs. His oppressive traditions and unequalled treatment of the unempowered of society. It was for this vision that Jesus suffered and died. And it is for this vision that the church must again reclaim God's holy Word through a more generous interpretation of its own gospel-doctrines urging discrimination and war-like temperaments towards the "unrighteous of the land." It is a redemption that must affect whole societies and no longer simply convicted men and women. It must be a redemption that unshackles the binding chains of men's reading of God Word of wrath for the greater release of God's mightier Word of love to all men and women everywhere about the church's missional fields. At the last, the easier doctrine is the one of fear and intolerance. A doctrine that would undo any who are unlike ourselves. But the harder doctrine is that of Jesus' faith and hope in a mankind lost and alone. A doctrine that would reach past its own barriers and see again the image of God burned into the image of disbelieving mankind.

As such, a more proper biblical reading of God's Word is less about a "literal reading of the Bible" and more about a 'literally-minded people" that would affect this kind of opinion upon its pages. Less about "Thus God says" and more about "Thus say we" in our socio-cultural contexts far, far, far removed from the ancient cultures and mindsets found upon the biblical page. It is less about speaking the "right doctrines and dogmas" of the church with its "strict biblical interpretations" built from its many centuries of circular reasonings - and iron-clad hermeneutics. Than about our own "stricter preferences" for a kind of biblical interpretation supporting our own religious arguments, acumens, agendas, and opinions, about what we think morality and ethics should be if we were to write the Bible and come to earth to judge all of mankind by our own standards of divine wrath and fie of judgment.

At the last, when reading the Bible from a naive, simplistic, and largely, prejudicial mindset, the Bible becomes what WE think (or want) God to say or do, and not what GOD is actually saying and doing. Just as there was a great amount of confusion in colonial times about the humanitarian validity of human trafficking and slavery because of the many verses found in the Bible thought to be about the advocacy of its practice. So too has there been great confusion in these present times about the equality of women, same-sex unions, the consumption of ecology, or the rightness of conservative agenda in national policy and religion. The conservative Christian mindset has become pointedly obtuse in refusing any other mindful interpretations of these subjects other than the one that prejudices this reading of it in THEIR Bible. As such, we have affectively created our own pretexts and conclusions of God's Word while refusing the divine light of God's illuminating love to inspire its revelation to our senses and obedience to our heart. As such, the Word of God becomes the whipping boy of Christian religion rather than the illuminating orifices of God to the questioning faithful of the land willing to submit to its more generous rule.

Against such black-and-white prostrations claiming a "rightness" of interpreting the Bible that advocates religious opinion over a truer Christian faith, let us pursue a more progressive Christian reading of the Bible while rejecting many of the accompanying fallacies by its religious readership. A vocal majority who would disregard (or assuage) historical and literary context to their own ends. Who would naively employ a present day a/biblical cultural ethic that was no less employed by the ancients in their day, time, and place, to affect their worldly visions and religious opinions. Who misspeak God's word with ready interpretations preferencing personal likes and dislikes, mindsets and societal mores ("folkways of central importance accepted without question, and emboding, the fundamental moral views of a group"). To this type of reading method let us say "Anathema" and pray  at once for God's divine forgiveness and mercy. And there then seek for His divine love and servant-minded weakness to be our only interpretive guides over all acts of human foible and tenacity that would preclude its golden script. This then would be more the right and good thing to do. Something that Jesus would do.

R.E. Slater
May 2, 2014

*If I were to write a follow-up rejoinder to the above article I would like to discuss "faith and uncertainty." For it seems more appropriate to cast some doubt on our plethora of interpretations while learning to hold in tension a balance of doctrine and theology about God and His holy will. However, there have been previous articles written of this topic and one need only to peruse the sidebars under "faith." Thank you again for your prayerful spirit and diligence in righteousness. - res




Jesus, the Servant of God

The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go.Acts 3:12-14 (in Context) Acts 3 (Whole Chapter)

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God—Romans 1:1-3 (in Context) Romans 1 (Whole Chapter)

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with theoverseers and deacons:Philippians 1:1-3 (in Context) Philippians 1 (Whole Chapter) 

Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.Colossians 4:11-13 (in Context) Colossians 4 (Whole Chapter)

Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge ofthe truth that leads to godliness—Titus 1:1-3 (in Context) Titus 1 (Whole Chapter)

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.James 1:1-3 (in Context) James 1 (Whole Chapter)

Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:2 Peter 1:1-3 (in Context) 2 Peter 1 (Whole Chapter)

Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James, To those who have been called, who are loved in God theFather and kept for Jesus Christ:Jude 1:1-3 (in Context) Jude 1 (Whole Chapter) 

At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.”Revelation 19:9-11 (in Context) Revelation 19 (Whole Chapter) 









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The pastor of the largest United Methodist congregation in America is sparking intense
debate with his provocative new take on the Bible. – Image courtesy of Adam Hamilton

Mega-church pastor Adam Hamilton's
Scandalous take on Scripture
/http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2014/05/01/adam-hamilton-offers-scandalous-take-on-scripture

by Jonathan Merritt
May 1, 2014

As pastor of [the] Church of the Resurrection, Adam Hamilton has the honor of leading the largest United Methodist congregation in the United States. More than 8,600 attend services each week, and the Kansas congregation is considered by many to be America’s most influential mainline Protestant church. But with the release of his provocative new book, “Making Sense of the Bible: Rediscovering the Power of Scripture Today,” Hamilton is becoming known as someone who is challenging traditional understandings the Bible.

Here we discuss the message of his book and how he navigates the most difficult and debated passages.

---

RNS: You believe the Bible is divinely “inspired.” Can you explain what you mean exactly?

AH: The biblical authors were people like us. Christians do not hold, as Muslims do, that our holy book was dictated by God. The biblical authors wrote in particular times, for particular audiences, out of a particular context. Part of rightly interpreting Scripture is reading it in the light of what we can know about its historical and cultural context, the author’s purposes in writing and knowing something about the people they were writing to.

In 2 Timothy 3:16 Paul writes, “All Scripture is inspired by God…” Christians often assume they know what this means, but Paul seems to have created the word “inspired.” It does not appear in the Greek language before this and is used nowhere else in the Bible. It literally means “God-breathed” but Paul doesn’t go on to explain precisely what he means. It is a metaphor, and metaphors are not precise. Push them too far and they break down.

When I think of inspired, I think of God-influenced. This leaves open a variety of ways in which the biblical authors were influenced by God.

---

RNS: A lot of critics reject the Bible because of the violence in the Old Testament. What say you?

AH: My premise is that the Bible is the words of people who were influenced by God, and yet who were also shaped by the times in which they lived. The violence attributed to God in the Bible is a serious issue that Christians must address. It is inconsistent with the character of God described in many places in the Old Testament, and certainly inconsistent with the Word of God revealed in Jesus Christ who calls his followers to love their enemies.

In the Hebrew Bible we find God putting to death 70,000 Israelites to punish David for taking a census. We have God commanding Joshua to slaughter every man woman and child in 31 entire kingdoms in the Canaan as a kind of offering to God. This is what, today, we would call genocide. God commands priests to burn their daughters alive if they become prostitutes. I cannot imagine God calling me to burn one of my children alive, regardless of what they had done. Other ancient near eastern people believed their gods also called them to slaughter entire cities as an offering to their gods, so this seems to have been a common cultural understanding about the relationship between war and the gods.

---

RNS: Theologian J.P. Moreland once argued that among evangelicals, “There is an over-commitment to Scripture in a way that is false, irrational, and harmful to the cause of Christ.” What do you think about his assertion?

AH: I don’t know the context of Moreland’s quote, but it sounds much like what I’m saying in my book. An exaggerated or inaccurate view of Scripture is not a high view of Scripture, it is just a wrong view of Scripture.

  • A high view of Scripture takes the Bible seriously, while also taking its historical context and the humanity of its authors seriously.
  • A high view of Scripture is held by those who actually read Scripture, seek to understand why the human authors wrote what they did, and how they convey God’s timeless will for us today.
  • A high view of Scripture includes not only reading the Bible, but seeking to live its timeless messages, which are discerned in the light of Jesus Christ, who is the definitive Word of God.

---

RNS: I suspect your chapter on homosexuality will rankle a few feathers, particularly among conservatives. Can you summarize your position and why you believe it is a scriptural one?

AH: I offer two different arguments regarding homosexuality in my book.

In the first, I suggest that what Moses and Paul were addressing in their teachings on same-sex intimacy was very different from two human beings entering into a covenant relationship of mutual love.

In the entire Old Testament we find only two expressions of same-sex intimacy: Gang rape and pagan temple prostitution. This is not at all synonymous with two people entering into a lifelong covenant relationship with one another.

In the New Testament, Paul, trained in rabbinic law, seems to draw upon all of these ideas in his words about same-sex intimacy in Romans where he uses the Old Testament terms of clean and unclean and where he speaks of same-sex intimacy in connection with idolatry.

But the second argument I make is that the Bible is complex and, while influenced by God, it is not dictated by God. It reflects the humanity of the biblical authors and the times in which they lived. We’ve seen this in its teaching on slavery, on violence, on the status and role of women, and several other topics.

Thus, I suggest, it is possible to be a faithful Christian who loves God and loves the scriptures and at the same time to believe that the handful of verses on same-sex intimacy are like the hundreds of passages accepting and regulating slavery or other practices we today believe do not express the heart and character of God.

---

RNS: You say that for those who disagree on homosexuality, the issue is not Biblical authority, but Biblical interpretation. Explain this.

AH: Most conservatives, moderate evangelicals, and progressives, I know believe that the church is to love gay and lesbian people. And nearly all agree, at core the issue is not homosexuality but the Bible. 

God did not rewrite, edit or send down from heaven a new Bible that clarified that God was against slavery. There are over 200 verses allowing and regulating the practice in the Bible. Yet somehow Christians were able to look at those verses and ultimately conclude they did not reflect God’s will for humankind despite verses directly attributed to God that allowed for owning, selling and even beating slaves.

Conservatives often suggest homosexuality is an issue of biblical authority. I believe the Bible has authority in my life and for the church and, in the words of II Timothy 3:16, it is, “useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.” But I also believe that the five passages that speak to some form of same-sex intimacy do not describe God’s timeless will for humanity any more than the passages on violence, or slavery, or women describe God’s timeless will. The issue is not authority, it is our assumptions about the Bible and the way we interpret it.

---

RNS: What do you say to those who would accuse you of just rehashing the arguments of 20th century theological liberalism? What is new here?

AH: My book is less about rehashing old arguments, than offering an accessible way of understanding both the Bible’s divine inspiration and its humanity. I share the kind of things any seminary student in a mainline or moderate evangelical seminary would learn in their first year, but most lay people may not be aware of. Often both laity and clergy speak of the Bible in terms that are not ultimately helpful in making sense of its difficult passages, and can actually lead to misunderstanding the Bible.

---

RNS: Your book might be characterized as provocative or progressive. Do you think it is also hopeful?

AH: Yes. I wrote the book for young adults who have been turned away from faith by things they’ve read in the Bible. I wrote it to help Christians who are increasingly confronted by vocal atheists who love to focus on the Bible’s more difficult passages. And I wrote it for people who are interested in reading the Bible and understanding its message. That is a message of great hope.

- J.M.

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BOOK REVIEW

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Amazon Link

Denominations from evangelical to mainline continue to experience deep divisions over universal social issues. The underlying debate isn’t about a particular social issue, but instead it is about how we understand the nature of scripture and how we should interpret it. The world’s bestselling, most-read, and most-loved book is also one of the most confusing. In Making Sense of the Bible, Adam Hamilton, one of the country’s leading pastors and Christian authors, addresses the hot-button issues that plague the church and cultural debate, and answers many of the questions frequently asked by Christians and non-Christians alike.

  • Did God really command Moses to put gay people to death?
  • Did Jesus really teach that everyone who is not a Christian will be assigned to hell?
  • Why would Paul command women to “keep silent in the church?”
  • Were Adam and Eve real people?
  • Is the book of Revelation really about the end times?
  • Who decided which books made it into the scriptures and why?
  • Is the Bible ever wrong?

In approachable and inviting language, Hamilton addresses these often misunderstood biblical themes leading readers to a deeper appreciation of the Bible so that we might hear God speak through it and find its words to be life-changing and life-giving.



13 Things Mindful People Do Differently Every Day



 Carolyn Gregoire
April 30, 2014

It may have started as a trend among Silicon Valley tech companies, but mindfulness seems to be here to stay for all of us.

2014 has been called the "year of mindful living," and in the past several months, mindfulness has made headlines in seemingly every major print publication and news site. No longer an activity reserved for the new age set, the public is looking to mindfulness as an antidote to stress and burnout, technology addiction and digital distractions, and a sense of time famine and constant busyness.

More and more research is legitimizing the practice, demonstrating that it may be an extremely effective intervention for a wide range of physical and mental health problems.

But beyond the buzz, what does it really mean to be a mindful person -- and what do they do differently every day to live more mindfully? Mindfulness, the practice of cultivating a focused awareness on the present moment, is both a daily habit and a lifelong process. It's most commonly practiced and cultivated through meditation, although being mindful does not necessarily require a meditation practice.

"It's the awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally," explained Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) technique, in a video interview. "That sounds pretty simple... but actually when we start paying attention to how much we pay attention, half of the time our minds are all over the place and we have a very hard time sustaining attention."

Here are 13 things mindful people actually do every day to stay calm, centered and attentive to the present moment.


1 - They take walks.



"In our culture of overwork, burnout, and exhaustion, in which we're connected and distracted 24/7 from most things that are truly important in our lives, how do we tap into our creativity, our wisdom, our capacity for wonder, our well-being and our ability to connect with what we really value?" Arianna Huffington asked in a 2013 HuffPost blog post.

Her answer: Solvitur ambulando, which is Latin for "it is solved by walking." Mindful people know that simply going for a walk can be excellent way to calm the mind, gain new perspective and facilitate greater awareness.

Walking through green spaces may actually put the brain into a meditative state,according to a 2013 UK study. The act of walking in a peaceful outdoor landscape was found to trigger "involuntary attention," meaning that it holds attention while also allowing for reflection.


2 - They turn daily tasks into mindful moments.

Mindfulness isn't just something you practice during a 10-minute morning meditation session. It can be incorporated throughout your everyday life by simply paying a little more attention to your daily activities as you're performing them.

As the meditation app Headspace puts it:

"Mindfulness starts to get really interesting when we can start to integrate it into everyday life. Remember, mindfulness means to be present, in the moment. And if you can do it sitting on a chair, then why not while out shopping, drinking a cup of tea, eating your food, holding the baby, working at the computer or having a chat with a friend? All of these are opportunities to apply mindfulness, to be aware."


3 - They create.



Mindfulness and creativity go hand-in-hand: Mindfulness practice boosts creative thinking, while engaging, challenging creative work can get you into a flow state of heightened awareness and consciousness.

Many great artists, thinkers, writers and other creative workers -- from David Lynch to Mario Batali to Sandra Oh -- have said that meditation helps them to access their most creative state of mind. In Catching The Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness and Creativity, Lynch compares ideas to fish: "If you want to catch a little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you've got to go deeper."

If you want to become more mindful but are struggling with a silent meditation practice, try engaging in your favorite creative practice, whether it's baking, doodling, or singing in the shower, and see how your thoughts quiet down as you get into a state of flow.


4 - They pay attention to their breathing.

Our breath is a barometer for our overall physical and mental state -- and it's also the foundation of mindfulness. As mindful people know, calming the breath is the key to calming the mind.

Meditation master Thich Nhat Hahn describes the most foundational and most effective mindfulness practice, mindful breathing, in Shambhala Sun:

"So the object of your mindfulness is your breath, and you just focus your attention on it. Breathing in, this is my in-breath. Breathing out, this is my out-breath. When you do that, the mental discourse will stop. You don’t think anymore. You don’t have to make an effort to stop your thinking; you bring your attention to your in-breath and the mental discourse just stops. That is the miracle of the practice. You don’t think of the past anymore. You don’t think of the future. You don’t think of your projects, because you are focusing your attention, your mindfulness, on your breath."


5 - They unitask.



Multitasking is the enemy of focus -- many of us spend our days in a state of divided attention and near-constant multitasking, and it keeps us from truly living in the present. Studies have found that when people are interrupted and dividing their attention, it takes them 50 percent longer to accomplish a task and they're 50 percent more likely to make errors.

"Rather than divide our attention, it is far more effective to take frequent breaks between intervals of sustained, one-pointed attention," Real Happiness at Work author Sharon Salzberg writes in a Huffington Post blog. "Debunking the myth of multitasking, we become much better at what we do and increase the chance of being able to remember the details of work we have done in the past."

The mindful way, Salzberg suggests, is to focus on one task completely for a given period of time, and then take a break before continuing or moving on to another task.


6 - They know when NOT to check their phones.

Mindful people have a healthy relationship with their mobile devices -- they set (and keep) specific parameters for usage. This might mean making a point never to start or end the day checking email (and maybe even keeping their smartphones in a separate room while they're sleeping), or choosing to unplug on Saturdays or every time they go on vacation.

But most importantly, they stow their phones away while spending time with their loved ones. One unfortunate byproduct of tech addition and too much screen time is that it keeps us from truly connecting with others -- as HopeLab CEO Pat Christen described her own aha moment, "I realized several years ago that I had stopped looking in my children's eyes. And it was shocking to me."

Those who mindfully interact with others look up from their screens and into the eyes of whomever they're interacting with, and in doing so, develop and maintain stronger connections in all their relationships.


7 - They seek out new experiences.

Openness to experience is a byproduct of living mindfully, as those who prioritize presence and peace of mind tend to enjoy taking in and savoring moments of wonder and simple joy. New experiences, in turn, can help us to become more mindful.

"[Adventure] can naturally teach us to be here now. Really, really here," adventurer Renee Sharp writes in Mindful Magazine. "To awaken to our senses. To embrace both our pleasant and our difficult emotions. To step into the unknown. To find the balance between holding on and letting go. And learn how to smile even when the currents of fear are churning within."


8 - They get outside.



Spending time in nature is one of the most powerful ways of giving yourself a mental reboot and reinstating a sense of ease and wonder. Research has found that being outdoors can relieve stress, while also improving energy levels, memory and attention.

“We need the tonic of wildness," Thoreau wrote in Walden. "At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.”


9 - They feel what they're feeling.

Mindfulness isn't about being happy all the time. It's about acceptance of the momentwe're in and feeling whatever we feel without trying to resist or control it.

Excessive preoccupation with happiness can actually be counterproductive, leading to an unhealthy attitude towards negative emotions and experiences. Mindful people don't try to avoid negative emotions or always look on the bright side -- rather, accepting both positive and negative emotions and letting different feelings coexist is a key component of remaining even-keeled and coping with life's challenges in a mindful way.

Meditation, the quintessential mindfulness practice, has been shown to be a highly effective intervention for managing emotional challenges including anxiety, depression and stress. A 2013 study also found that people with mindful personalities enjoy greater emotional stability and improved sleep quality.

As Mother Teresa put it, “Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.”


10 - They meditate.



You can be mindful without meditating, but all the research and experts tell us that meditation is the most sure-fire way to become more mindful. A regular practice can help to reduce stress, improve cognitive function, and boost well-being. Research has found that mindfulness meditation can even alter gene expression, lowering the body's inflammatory response.

Aside from the wealth of research on the physical and mental health benefits of meditation, the testimonies of countless meditators attests to the fact that a consistent practice can help you stay awake and present to your own life.

“It’s almost like a reboot for your brain and your soul,” Padmasree Warrior, CTO of Cisco, told the New York Times in 2012 of making the time to meditate and unplug. “It makes me so much calmer when I’m responding to e-mails later.”


11 - They're conscious of what they put in their bodies -- and their minds.

So often, we shovel food into our mouths without paying any attention to what we're eating and whether we feel full. Mindful people make a practice of listening to their bodies -- and they consciously nourish themselves with healthy foods, prepared and eaten with care. But mindful eating is all about taking your time, paying attention to the tastes and sensations, focus fully on the act of eating and eating-related decisions.

Mindful people also pay attention to their media diets, are equally careful not to feed their minds with "junk food" like excess television, social media, mindless gaming and other psychological empty calories. (Too much time on the Internet has been linked with fewer hours of sleep per night and an increased risk of depression.


12 - They remember not to take themselves so seriously.



As Arianna Huffington writes in Thrive, "Angels fly because they take themselves lightly." A critical factor in cultivating a mindful personality is refusing to get wrapped up and carried away by the constant tug of the emotions. If you can remember to laugh and keep an even keep through the ups and downs, then you've come a long way already in mastering the art of mindfulness.

Much of our distraction is internal -- we ruminate, worry and dwell on our problems. But those who are able to maintain a sense of humor about their own troubles are able to better cope with them. Research from the University of California Berkeley and University of Zurich found that the ability to laugh at oneself is associated with elevated mood, cheerful personality, and a sense of humor.

Laughing also brings us into the present moment in a mindful way. Joyful laughter and meditation even look similar in the brain, according to a new study from Loma Linda University.


13 - They let their minds wander.



While mindfulness is all about focusing on the present moment, mind-wandering also serves an important psychological function, and conscientious people are able to find the happy medium between these two ways of thinking. It’s smart to question whether we should always be living in the moment. The latest research on imagination and creativity shows that if we're always in the moment, we're going to miss out on important connections between our own inner mind-wandering thoughts and the outside world.

Engaging in imaginative thinking and fantasizing may even make us more mindful. Research has found that those whose daydreams are most positive and most specific also score high in mindfulness.