Mindfulness and Human Behaviour


Is it correct that human behaviour can be broken down into three basic components?

  1. Anger and threats
  2. Striving and goal achievement
  3. Exploratory

Within these components the mindfulness theory runs deep and my thoughts on this classification were as follows.

When dealing with anger and threats we are in the classic “fight or flight” syndrome. All of us have to be aware of actual and present threats in order to survive as a species. There is nothing wrong with seeing a bus heading right at you. Flight is represented by jumping aside and saving your skin.

Now when things get unclear is where the threat is not really there in reality but in one’s own mind. If one views it as a threat is it really threat or a threat which is largely imagined by the person interpreting it? Now if is not really a threat and that person treats it as a threat imagine the suffering and anguish that person endures. Mindfulness should teach us that it is better to respond than react. Responding means to more objectively respond to the threat instead of reacting to it. For example, if you are caught in a terrible traffic jam should you panic, honk your horn and curse or should you realize in an objective fashion you are caught in a bad situation and all your suffering is really for nothing. Look for a side street or just turn on the radio and relax. So much human frustration and anxiety is caused by misperceived threats.

Is there are solution to misperceived threats? Mindfulness training just may cause you to take a few minutes to breathe and relax and when you have calmed down then assess the situation in a non-stressed situation and determine how you might best address it. That is upon a more informed basis responding to the situation rather than reacting to it.

Striving and goal setting is again one of those possible sources of human suffering, yet it is also absolutely necessary to adhere to or nothing would be accomplished. Once again, a good thing can be corrupted by the mind that is stressed and anguished by not reaching the set goals. Mindfulness might teach you to realize that not reaching your goals or having things be as you want them to be perhaps is not as bad as you think it to be. So much suffering and anguish over what might be in the big scheme of things largely irrelevant.

The behavioural component not used enough is the exploratory part of our behaviour. Being beset by threats and striving what time are we taking with ourselves? Mindfulness compels one to stop, to a breath and drop everything and focus on the present moment. That voice in your head that never shuts up but with some training with various forms of meditation it can me momentarily banished or at least set aside for some time as you focus on nothing but the present and your breathing and body. If you can master this very simple but at times extremely difficult task you have accomplished much. If not be compassionate with yourself and keep trying. Silly as it may sound hopefully you will find yourself  fully in the present moment with you and your breath and body and you may say, “It’s so good to be here in the present”.

This simplistic revelation leading to happiness, peace and tranquility may sound like the biggest piece of BS you have ever heard of. However, getting to this point of simple gratitude makes you realize that the most important part of life is realizing you are a human and that satisfaction over realizing that you are in the present in a peaceful and non-judgemental way beats owing a Porsche or the latest i-Phone.

As a closing comment if you have read this and treat it a palaver that would have been me a few years ago. However, through mindfulness I realize that voice in my head never shutting up, in fact I can control it.

I realize that most threats in my life are imaginary and self imposed.

I have the ability to be with myself in the present moment. If you are “too busy”  to think about what I have just written your life may just vanish as you pay no attention to yourself.  Not be conspiratorial but perhaps that is just where the man wants you to be!

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About the Author

Robert Stephen (CSW)
Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he loves The Square. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write." Email Robert Stephen

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