As you probably know, one of my goals for the year was to become more mindful. I feel like I’m a little rushed and a little stressed, and I don’t want to be like that anymore. I also have a calm problem- I can be extremely calm, but then I build to a point where I explode. Neither of these looks is one I wear well, so it was time to get out a spreadsheet and work on it.
I started by buying a book “Calm” by Michael Acton Smith. The first thing I noticed about the book was its pleasing blue color. Seriously- the book stood out on the shelf at Barnes and Noble because it was peaceful yet bold. My daughter uses his meditation app, so I knew this guy was invested in calm. Secondly, in the introduction to the book, he flat out says- read this book any way you want, out of order, skip chapters, whatever. Take a week to read it, a month, or a year. It’s your ride. And I appreciated his candor and honesty and stress free way to look at the subject. It reminded me that I do not have to change overnight. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and I have to take the process at my own pace.
The first thing I focused on is his section on “How to Write a Journal”. He says that every day one should write down three things that they are grateful for, made you calm, and highlights. You have no idea how powerful an idea this is until you try it. On Saturdays and Sundays I have been blogging some of these things- I am also keeping a little journal to share some of my more private moments. Here’s the thing: I feel so much better when I focus on the things that bring me joy or peace or calm. Seriously. And I’m not an emotive sort of person- I’m actually pretty dry. But the power of putting words to your feelings, writing down all the good that there is- it really helps! No lie- focusing on the good makes you feel lighter.
Now, I get that many of you are thinking, how can you be happy when things are bad? I get that- I really do. But there are always bad things- bad things have been happening for eons. We can not control all the bad things that happen- and focusing on them isn’t going to make things better. While we need to be informed, we also can’t fixate on what’s wrong. we have to know what’s wrong, take action when we feel it’s needed, but we also have to live out lives the best we can. Wanting to be happy doesn’t make you shallow or a bad person, or uninformed. If everyone was at least working towards happy, content or fulfilled, the world would probably be a better place. What does obsessing about the negative get you?
I have also been contemplating meditation. And I mean contemplating. I get up every and I think, hmmm, maybe I’ll meditate today. But I haven’t gotten there yet. What I’ve been doing is getting out of bed ten minutes earlier, and I lay on the couch and I listen to instrumental music of some sort. I try to count the beats, because I recently discovered that counting was a calming practice that I have subconsciously been doing my entire life. It’s not quite meditation, but it definitely calms my brain.
Going back to calm, gratitude and highlights: now that I am focusing on them I notice that these things are often the same- I have trouble distinguishing which category an event belongs in. Going to a museum is calming, I’m grateful that the institution/artists exist, and it’s a highlight. I am also noticing how many calming things I just naturally do in a day without realizing that these are the things that center me. My afternoon tea signifies the end of my day responsibilities, and it’s a reward for getting things accomplished. It’s a reprieve to get me ready for the night routine, and everyone coming home. Until I thought about it, I did not realize how important this seemingly mundane activity is to my well being. I do a loose leaf tea, so the act of getting it together is ritualistic, and requires focus as I set the water to boil, measure out the leaves in the tea holder, and watch the water splash over the leaves. I love to watch the leaves blossom under the hot water and the smell is wonderful. I then sit in my favorite chair, my hands wrapped around the handleless mug that I prefer, and I just sip it slowly. I don’t do anything else except listen to music or maybe watch a home renovation show. I need this time for myself every day to remind myself who I am, and what I’m doing, yet I didn’t appreciate it for what it was until I actually thought about it.
Little things matter….
What are you doing to make your life a little better, a little calmer, a little more peaceful?