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How mindful runs help Kevin Hart quiet his thoughts and set big goals

Running and meditation help the comedian stay in "in a thinking space of improvement.”
When Hart feels his patience running thin, he takes a mindfulness break to step away and collect his thoughts.
When Hart feels his patience running thin, he takes a mindfulness break to step away and collect his thoughts.TODAY Illustration / Headspace

Kevin Hart is well known as a stand-up comedian, actor, producer, father and husband — but you may not know him as an advocate for mindfulness.

LOL Studios, which is one of Hart’s production companies, has teamed up with the meditation app Headspace to produce a series called “Mindful Runs.” Hart will also be narrating Energy Shots with Kevin, through which he will attempt to hilariously motivate you to start your day on a more mindful note.

But just how did the famous comedian become the next spokesperson for mindfulness? And how does he practice what he preaches?

Mindful movement: How Hart used mindfulness to not hate running

Hart started running about five years ago, and it took him a while to build up endurance and love for the sport. During that time, he found that mindfulness was a way to take his mind off how difficult it was.

“The freedom of thinking took my mind off of how far I was going and I ended up pushing myself more distance and more distance,” Hart told TODAY.

While running, Hart likes to focus on his goals for the day. Beyond distracting himself from the fact that running was hard, Hart found that practicing mindfulness in this way helped him become more intentional about his goals. “In setting [life-based] goals, I found myself accomplishing more goals within running,” he added.

It also helped him slow down and focus.

“I was a person at one point in time that used to voice my thoughts to others before I gave myself a chance to truly vet them out and form a perspective on my own,” Hart said. “And running has allowed me to get to a space where I can just hear my feet hitting the pavement. … I can hear traffic, I can hear the sound of a day … it just helps me to go to a space of focusing on, ‘Kevin what do you want to do? What are your goals?’”

Hart’s tips for making mindfulness a daily habit

Mindfulness can feel intangible to many people, but Hart shared some specific ways in which he slows down, observes his thoughts and becomes more present in his everyday activities.

  • Carve out time to reflect on the past. “I make sure that I’m able to take my time, assess the things that I’ve done so far, find the good in those things and know the directive that I need to move forward.”
  • Ask yourself: What do I want? “The best thing that you can think about, especially when you are attempting to be mindful, is about what you want to do,” explained Hart. “The things that you want to do in life, the things that you want out of life, the things that you want to improve on, the things that you would love to get better at. I think that’s where your thoughts should be."
  • Make it a part of your daily routine. Throughout his work day, Hart factors in a couple of sessions, each up to 45 minutes, of mindfulness and meditation. Doing this every day has helped him tackle each day’s goals and form a routine, which he said is an important part of his life. These moments of mindfulness have also helped him better handle difficult parts of his day, no matter what role he’s working in at any given moment.
  • Use moments of frustration as a reminder to step away. “Throughout the day, I have to make sure I have my breaks and that during those breaks I have a moment to myself. If I don’t, I find myself in a place of my patience getting thinner,” said Hart. He explained that when he gets frustrated or short with someone during conversations, he knows it's time to step away and collect his thoughts. This, he said, makes his conversations much more productive no matter the topic at hand.

Hart said that taking moments of mindfulness, through running and by simply sitting and getting his thoughts in order, has been integral in helping him through his days. If you’re still not sure where to start, Hart said: “Just try your best to put yourself in a thinking space of improvement.”