For peace of mind, focus on the small spaces in-between

Image

The simple things bring lasting pleasure

Notice the small things. The rewards are inversely proportional.
Liz Vassey

Pausing the monkey mind was once a major priority for me. The constant chatter was deafening and debilitating. A wise woman shared with me a strategy; focus on the silence between the Oms in meditation.  It worked.  Those tiny spaces, for a breath, between the rhythmic chanting allowed my mind to rest and I eventually turned down and tuned out the monkey mind.

Today I see a great need to soothe nervous tension and anxiety, whether caused by work related stress or the result of too many responsibilities and expectations.  A great many people are being pulled into the eddy of chronic psychological dis-ease. Without discounting the support of professionals there may be a way we can help ourselves to resurface and recreate a more joyful life, using a similar strategy as described above. Instead, the attention would be on the small moments of joy between the larger grey periods.  Leader in the field of positive-psychology Marty Seligman, found that by consciously focusing our attention on what we want more of in life we increase our chance of getting it.  So turn your attention away from what you don’t want and see the things you do.  This is tough when you feel overwhelmed, on edge, lacking energy or can’t leave the house. So start small.

A posy of home-grown flowers from a friend, watching birds and animals in the wild (substitute garden), the soft ache of used muscles at the end of a long walk. These things bring me joy. As do following the path of a balloon as it rises into the sky until it is no longer visible or spotting a brightly coloured bush flower in a sea of green undergrowth as well as taking a moment to appreciate the magic of a giant tree soaring overhead while feeling the texture of its bark.  Filling the house with warm and soothing aromas on a cold, wet afternoon while baking cookies and brewing chai tea, the sound of a child’s laughter,  a smile from a stranger. These are the pauses in between.

Peace can be ours. We can rebuild joyful lives and it need cost nothing. Harmony can be restored. These things can be ours if we appreciate the many small moments in life. The first step is to notice. Notice where you focus most of your attention and refocus it if necessary.

Advertisements

Living a beautiful life

11990482_10153149522338652_4930740572377752538_n

“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”  Jim Rohn

How many versions of the ideal day exist?

As we begin a new year I’ve seen and heard quite a bit about resolutions to make this the best year yet and starting as you intend to finish. But how do you do that?  How do you manage the routine, day-to-day, and still feel like you are living? How do you stop waiting for life to begin and start living it?  One brilliant idea I’ve come across several times, this week alone, is to plan your ideal day and then live it.

My friend Nicole from Cauldrons and Cupcakes recently shared a post about her weekly planning session – the Sunday session. In this time, as well as planning and preparing for the week ahead, ensuring she keeps her long-term goal in focus, identifying a to do list and nominating time for the completion of said list, she also plans a Lucky Dip activity. A lucky dip is something to make her soul sing; a reward for the week, time out for a busy mind and body.  Martin Seligman, a leader in the positive psychology movement, supports the idea of planning a beautiful day and then living it; it makes people happier.

Some of you might know this habit as self-care. That’s a term that, while I understand what it means, grates on me a little.  (I’m not sure why but I’m sure it reveals much about my nature 😁.)  Anyway, this habit it is not about waiting until a crisis hits to look after yourself. This habit occurs on a regular basis, it’s planned for and completed weekly.

It differs to a practice I have engaged in over the past few years where I created a list of exciting and adventurous activities, a love list, to keep the enjoyment factor of life at a high. Usually there are 10 to 12 things I’d like to do, places I’d like to visit, experiences I am keen to try out in the year.  I embrace this practice and the sense of achievement from meeting each target. The ensuing flood of endorphins, from each activity, is a huge boost. While I’m not quite ready to give this away totally, I have to admit, there have been years when several items have stayed on the list, unachieved, simply because they were not planned for.  I think Nicole is onto something when she plans one small action, activity or indulgence per week.

A time out for mind, body and soul each week, no matter how small, is a brilliant way to stay focused, recharge, and keep the positivity factor high. Julia Cameron calls these artist dates. Oh, I can hear the protests already. I’m too busy, there is no time, I’ll do it next week. STOP! If you don’t value yourself enough to plan your ideal day, your lucky dip, a date with yourself then where will you find the fun in life, the joy, the real meaning? Who will look after you and your needs, if not you?  It need not be a whole day – keep Seligman’s idea for a once a month practice perhaps – a weekly lucky dip could include going to a new cafe to sit and write for an hour, having that massage you long for, taking your bike out for a ride, going for a short hike up the local lookout or a walk on the beach, redesigning your garden, seeing a stage show, visiting the gallery, eating ice cream while reading a magazine on your back deck. When the brain is happy it is more productive and (while this is not backed by any research I have read) I reckon it makes us more compassionate, considerate and patient too.

How many versions of the ideal day exist? I could let my imagination run wild and create multiple ‘ideal’, beautiful days. I certainly have a nice list of weekly lucky dips in mind too. The options are endless and limited only by the effort and time it takes to plan. The key though is living them. You need to think it. Write it. Plan it and DO it.

Isn’t it time we stopped waiting for life to begin and start living it? Isn’t it time to bring back the joy and inject some happiness into the routine of life? If you’ve committed to making this the best year yet, stop wishing and start living.