Breathe. Just inhale, fill your lungs and feel all that air going into your body. As you let it go, release all that stress and intensity that tells you that your To Do List is the single most important thing in the world.
I think we all struggle with the idea that it’s more important to be doing something than it is to listen to what our bodies need. I know I’m guilty of this over and over again. I’m trying to work breaks into my day for my health, but the long To Do List is usually right there to tell me why I don’t have time for a walk outside with the dog. It almost never says there is time for a nap when I’m tired.
The truth is that very few things are as important as we tell our selves they are. Sure, dusting needs to happen, but not above all other things. Sometimes you just need to stop, take a breath and let go of those expectations and demands on your time.
I just heard you saying that you have to go to the grocery store because how will the family eat if you don’t have bread in the house? But how true is that really? Is your life really hinging on whether or not you have bread? There aren’t other options? You can’t just have a picnic on the living room floor for a change?
Often, the stories we tell ourselves is so much more than what is happening in reality. So just breathe. And let it go.
Choose to be happy. It’s that simple! I’m serious. Why would I lie to you?
Being happy comes down to the thoughts you dwell on in your brain. Do you tend to spend time ruminating about the things that aren’t working for you? Or do you focus on that bright spot in your day that makes you happy?
Look, I know how difficult it can be to break out of that cycle. I was very invested in my misery and all the things that weren’t working in my life. I started trying to find something to be happy about by always having the same item on my list – “My dog loves me.” Some days I’d get lucky and be able to add “The sun came out” or some other desperate grasp for something to be happy about.
But it gets easier. Getting happy is like getting your body in shape. At first you can barely walk to the end of the block without your shins screaming at you, but it gets a little easier if you just keep doing it. Some days it will be harder than others, but just keep trying.
Many popular programs will suggest a gratitude journal to get you focused on the positive aspects of your life. I’m sure that will work for many people, but I struggled with the writing part of it. It was enough for me to just take a few minutes at the end of the day for quiet contemplation and reflection. There I would replay my day and look for clues that might indicate some happiness in there somewhere.
After a few weeks I started to notice I was happy more often than I thought I was. I would be sweating my brains out, pulling weeds from the garden and I’d stop to watch a goofy bug crawling out of the way and I’d smile. Something in my brain would trigger a thought to “remember this for my happy moments tonight”. But just noticing the happy moments, instead of noticing the sweat and labor and the WORK in the yard, I’ll carry the smile over that goofy bug. Even if my back starts aching, I can just smile about that shiny little bug and I’m happy again.
It doesn’t seem like it should be that simple, but it is. Just try it.
The truth is that, although you may not feel like it at the moment, all is perfect right now.
That feeling that things are “wrong” or “imperfect” is just your brain telling you stories about the things you lack and the things that aren’t ideal. Getting too wrapped up in these stories will convince you time and again that life is a struggle and a fight to get the bare minimum you need to get by.
If you can stop and see the perfect parts of this very moment, you develop a sense of gratitude and grace for what is.
Pema Chodron talks a lot in her book, “When Things Fall Apart” about accepting what is. This was an extremely difficult concept for me at first.
It seemed like I was being told that I had to like something that I didn’t want to like. I have pain. I experience sickness. I have challenges and things I wish were different. What is there to accept about that? Well, is it happening? Is it true? Well, then accept it and embrace what is.
That doesn’t mean you can’t work to change the things that are less than desirable. You just have to accept that this is what is happening right now and once you can learn to accept that and stop the constant struggle against what is, you will find that feeling of Perfect. Embrace that. It’s a much better place to spend your time than in focusing on what is wrong and needs to be controlled or changed or adapted.
Life doesn’t have to be as much of a struggle as we make it. Perfect can be elusive until you realize what it really means. It isn’t an ideal existence where there is no pain, no struggle, no difficulty. It’s just things running along as planned by something much larger than yourself. Once you let go of trying to control the outcome of all things, you will be able to unclench and move through these challenges in life with a bit more ease.
I love this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Let it go. Forget about it. What’s done is done. It’s a reminder that the mistakes you might have made yesterday no longer matter. In addition, you can’t worry about mistakes you might make tomorrow as they are also part of your journey.
The only thing you can really influence is the decisions you are making right now, in this exact moment. The rest is all just mind games. Really. It’s true.
Just keep your head up and keep moving forward. You are already on your way.
I love this quote by Geneen Roth. I printed this out and hung it on my wall by my desk where I would read it several times a day and remind myself of this simple fact. Despite whatever stories I’m telling myself out of habit, I’m doing better than I think I am. 🙂
How are you doing this week? Any road blocks or speed bumps got your stuck? Or are you focused and mindful about your actions? Are you on your path, or do you feel lost and alone?