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6 Mindful Ideas to Be More Content As a Developer

March 9, 2021 by Simon Mannes

What makes you content?

Life is so full of distractions and endless to-do lists, it's easy to forget what it's all about.

For me, the goal is not to be happy, but content.

You can be happy or sad. Both are part of our lives.

Contentment lies deeper within us. We can be happy and content or sad, but content. Both are ok.

Being content is often not about getting what you want (there are infinitely many things to want), but recognizing and appreciating what you already have.

Here are 6 mindful ideas that help me stay calm, clear, and content.

I hope they help you, too.

Take It Slow And Steady

There are infinitely many things to do.

Many tasks seem to take you closer to your goals.

But what does really matter? How do you spend your time best?

It doesn't matter how many tasks you complete. What matters is their impact.

Don't rush through your tasks. Ask yourself which ones really matter and how they contribute to your goals.

Time spent planning your day is time well spent.

Slowing down means to do fewer things overall, but more things that matter. To be less distracted and more conscious. Maintaining awareness and truly enjoying what you are doing.

You don’t need to hurry.

Just take one step at a time. And take your time to enjoy the journey.

I've written about taking it slow in issues Slowing Down – Nerdful Mind #22 and Slow and Steady – Nerdful Mind #36.

Be Compassionate With Others And Yourself

What is compassion?

Compassion is the feeling you get when others or yourself are in physical, mental, or emotional pain, and you get the motivation to ease that pain.

In meditation, we practice compassion with ourselves. We practice to let go of judging our own thoughts and feelings. We learn how we struggle and recognize that other people struggle in similar ways.

“It is said that we can't attain enlightenment, let alone feel contentment and joy, without seeing who we are and what we do, without seeing our patterns and our habits. This is called maitri – developing loving-kindness and an unconditional friendship with ourselves.” ― Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart

Kindness towards others and kindness towards yourself are the same thing.

I've written about compassion in issues Compassion and Awareness – Nerdful Mind #12 and What Is Compassion? – Nerdful Mind #63.

Stay In The Present And Rest In Awareness

So many things call for our attention.

Social media, email notifications, coworkers on Slack, background noise. Memories of the past and fears of the future. Rather than doing one thing with focus, we're constantly switching from one thing to the next, and the next.

What is awareness, and why is awareness important?

Awareness is not the same as attention. When you focus on something, you give it your undivided attention. It fully absorbs you. Awareness means being aware of the context.

Awareness allows us to step back and see our thoughts as what they are: words and images in our minds. Our thoughts are not the truth. They may or may not be important. This is up to you to decide.

The psychological term for this is “cognitive defusion”. Stepping back from the content of our thoughts, instead of getting caught up in them. Letting thoughts go instead of holding on to them.

“Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness.” James Thurber

You can practice awareness everywhere, anytime. Not only during meditation but also when walking, writing code, or cooking dinner.

I've written about staying present in issues Mindful Throughout The Day – Nerdful Mind #32 and Awareness vs. Attention – Nerdful Mind #13.

Simplify Your Life

There's so much fuzz around simplicity.

But why?

Simplicity means less complexity. Fewer things to understand and fewer items to maintain. Fewer decisions to make and fewer distractions from the current moment. Ultimately, more peace of mind.

Simplicity means not only to get rid of things you don't need. It means to remove the nonessential stuff in every area of your life and to focus on what matters most to you.

“Simplicity boils down to two steps: Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest” – Leo Babauta

I've written about simplifying your life in issues Simple Or Complex? – Nerdful Mind #9, Simplicity In Personal Life – Nerdful Mind #10 and Simplicity In Working Life – Nerdful Mind #11.

Be Playful And Stay Curious

Imagine you're going on vacation.

It's the first time you see this new place. Nothing is familiar. Everything is new. You're going for a walk, look around, and see the beauty that surrounds you.

When applied to any activity, we call this a beginner's mind.

Too often in life, we have a novel experience, enjoy it for a few days, and then it wears off.

In mindfulness, playfulness and curiosity create space to learn.

And in life, they open your eyes to the everyday beauty that surrounds us.

I've written about playfulness and curiosity in issues Playfulness And Curiosity – Nerdful Mind #42 and Being Curious – Nerdful Mind #62.

Accept Yourself And Others

What is acceptance?

For me, it's not passive resignation. It means to recognize reality and find ways to work with it. When something is now how you want it to be, acceptance helps you to stop complaining and start acting.

Yes, you sometimes feel you're not doing enough. Not making enough progress. Not being kind enough, not calling your parents enough, not being good enough at your job.

But you are enough. There's no point in beating yourself up over how you are. There is a point in recognizing what you want to change and finding a path to your goals.

The same with other people. You can't force other people to bend to your will. Accept that everyone has had different experiences, a different personality, different values, and different opinions.

Accept that other people don't see the world like you.

  • If you don't need to agree on a topic, why fight? Exchange your viewpoints and let it be if you can't agree.
  • If it's a topic you need to agree on, embrace the different views and try to understand them. Always assume best intentions. When you don't get to a shared point of understanding, try to find a solution that is compatible with all positions.
  • If you feel disregarded or hurt, say it. It's okay to go if you don't see another option to improve the situation.

Accept the way it is. Find out where this feeling of tension comes from. Let it go. Identify what you can control and what you can't. And find a viable path towards your goals.

I've written about acceptance in issues You Are Enough – Nerdful Mind #41, Leave Or Accept – Nerdful Mind #34, Accept Yourself And Others - Nerdful Mind #33, and Acceptance - Nerdful Mind #30.

Also Helpful: Quick Mindfulness Exercises

Mindfulness is a skill.

It means maintaining a gentle moment-to-moment awareness of your thoughts, bodily sensations, and surroundings, without judging anything.

And like every skill, mindfulness relies on practice. Apart from meditation and meditative activities like Yoga, martial arts, and dancing, you can do small mindfulness exercises many times a day.

👉 Check out 7 mindfulness exercises developers can do every day.