“There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude,
a quiet joy.” –Ralph H. Blum
I think the words “time really flies” rings so incredibly true when you become a parent. My days, months and years are now measured by the milestones of my children – eating, crawling, walking, talking and now potty training. Looking at my oldest daughter, who we started with potty training this weekend, I am struck by: how did we already get here?? I am always wanting to slow time down and really savor every moment of it. As we all know, there is no slowing down time, only enjoying it. And how do I make sure that I am really enjoying every moment and being present in my own life? Through trying to live more mindfully.
As a long-time planner and do-er, being “in the moment” isn’t something that I can say comes naturally for me – I used to be so concerned with planning and getting everything just right that I felt like I was never really present in the moment in my own life. Not good. Now, it is something I’ve been working on these past couple of years and getting much better at!
4 ways I try to live more mindfully:
- Unplug to Get In-Tune. Put down the phones, laptops, iPads and turn off the t.v. I don’t mind some music playing, but remove all temptations of “staying connected” and give your full attention to whatever is happening at that moment in your day, whether it’s playing with your kids, cooking a homemade dinner, writing in your journal or relaxing on the patio. Give your eyes and mind a rest and simply enjoy life. I encourage you to take a week off of all media (Twitter, Facebook, Fantasy Sports, gaming, etc.) and you might be surprised by how much you are missing in the real world. This can bring about heightened awareness for your place in this world and open you up to all kinds of experiences.
- Practice Gratitude. In our materialistic society, it’s easy to want the latest and greatest in everything: iGadgets, designer purses, flashy cars, the latest trendy clothes, a large house or a thinner body. Sometimes we are so eager to do anything to get the next best thing that we forget to have gratitude for what we already have in life. I love the idea of making a list – either verbally or writing it down – of everything we are grateful for. I practice this with my daughter before she goes to bed and it had stuck with me too. Even a short meditation to get centered before I start my crazy day to reflect: what God has given me is exactly what I need at this point in my life and with that in focus, I know it’s enough and I’m grateful.
- Simplify. My life’s motto. When life seems so crazy and your schedule is full of commitments that you don’t want to do, simplify. Think about how you really want to spend your time and dedicate your efforts to that. Declutter your existence – purge your closets, trash your junk food, organize your basement, donate your extra possessions to charity. Be kind to the Earth and start making better decisions that impact our footprint here. My favorite thing to do when life seems so chaotic or messy is go outside. Be in the sunshine and take a walk through nature. Journal outside and record everything you are seeing and feeling without judging your work. Keep things simple in life and you’ll find you have more room to think, breathe, love and most importantly…live.
- Live with Passion. This is all we get, one life. I think of all the talents and interests God has blessed me with as an individual and I truly feel that we are meant to do something incredible with those gifts. We are not created to be couch potatoes watching the latest junk t.v. boarded up in our houses. Nor should we settled for a monotonous life doing something we don’t love day after day and wasting our time away. Life is meant to be lived and I am all about trying new things and experiencing new places and adventures. I’ve been approaching new situations with an open heart and really letting myself absorb the fact that God has a plan for me that is out of my control. It can be scary and risky trying new things that are outside my comfort zone, but it’s how I grow and evolve. This next year I am dedicated to going out and really doing something I am passionate about and exploring and nurturing my interests.
I have found focusing on these areas help with reducing stress and anxiety and really allows me to take care of myself and my family with my heart and mind in a peaceful, forgiving place. They have opened me up to enjoying my own life, moment by moment.
What are some of the ways that you live mindfully? I’d love to hear other ideas and practices!