Flying With DBT: Mindfulness as a Practical Skill of Life

Often we don’t think that mindfulness is a practical skill. Many people still believe that mindfulness must look like a more formal meditation practice, but I’ve found that everyday mindfulness makes a difference in big and not-so-big ways.

This past Easter, my husband David and I were traveling from Ohio back to Texas when our flight was delayed for several hours during our layover in Atlanta. We had some dinner and then made our way to another terminal in the Atlanta airport. At one point when we had been walking for some time, I briefly stopped (David kept walking) and then realized that I had misread our ticket information and that the departure gate we wanted was still a bit of a distance ahead.

When I caught up to David, I half-joked, “I could have been been on the wrong plane!” David told me that the airlines had too many checks in place to allow to allow mistakes like that.

But then it really happened. Once we were finally seated and preparing to depart for Dallas, a woman behind us shouted, “I think I’m on the wrong plane!” The flight attendant confirmed that she was, indeed, on the wrong flight.

It was a nice reminder of how mindfulness can help us to get where we’re going.  But, of course, this just isn’t about mindful travel. This kind of awareness can make a difference in every area of our lives—especially when it comes to creating a life worth living.  In his famous 2005 Stanford University graduation speech, Steve Jobs said that throughout his adult life, he’s regularly thought to himself: If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today? And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

None of us can begin to answer that question accurately without mindfulness and a quiet reflection about our values and what’s really important to us. DBT skills have successfully helped me to get where I’m going so that I can achieve my goals for a decade now. They’ve made a difference in my life when other strategies and ideas have failed. I’m forever thankful for the practical application of mindfulness in my everyday life.

Are you on the correct flight today?

 Amanda L. Smith
Amanda L. Smith, LCSW is an intensively-trained DBT therapist in Waco, Texas. She’s been writing about DBT skills daily since 2011 at www.mydialecticallife.com and can also be found at www.hopeforbpd.com. Amanda is the author of The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Wellness Planner: 365 Days of Healthy Living for Your Body, Mind, and Spirit.

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