How can you find your flow even with things that aren’t the easiest?
I am traveling today. A road trip through the desert of Arizona. I am not much of a desert girl. I have spent too many years living in the snow and ice. Although, I can’t say I crave getting to the hot desert weather, I do love Saguaro cactus.
Today, as I pass all these crazy cacti flying past my car window, they are reminding me to notice the beauty in sharp, edgy, and unique things. Not always the easiest things to be around, but they are pretty cool anyway.
Here’s to finding your Friday Flow with the prickly things in your life. Where can you shift from feeling the pain to noticing the beauty? Even if just a sliver of recognition toward the unique experience it is giving you right now.
An often overlooked piece of our health is spirituality. Spirituality is so important to our health. We all crave purpose and meaning. Spirituality is a tool to help us access the values we want to manifest in our lives. It is a way to live into the values we hold dear.
Although religion can fit within spirituality, religion itself is not spirituality. Spirituality is broader, where religion often has sets of rules or rituals related to the particular dogma/denomination one adheres to.
According to a quick google search spirituality is “the quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things”.
One is not necessarily better than the other, especially if it gets us to our goal of being more connected to something larger than ourselves.
When we access the great power of looking beyond ourselves we come into service of each other. This connection lifts us. From a human development point of view it helps us build our brains. We have these things called mirror neurons in our brains. When I see you do something I to go through a process of “doing” that thing. So when you smile at me, you get a hit of dopamine and so do I. By sharing these moments we connect to the larger system outside of ourselves and get a better understanding of the huge circle of life we all live within.
Many people like to use prayer or mantras to help them access the deeper connection we all share. Finding a statement, habit, ritual, or perception that gives us a spiritual focus can be a way to help us live into our desire for purpose and meaning.
Today, try this prayer, it is one of my favorites and often reminds me to consider my role in relationships to others, myself, and the world at large.
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
“May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.”
May the light return in your life. Enjoying the end of a great day contemplating the light and dark aspects of our world, the balance between them, and the need for both. I love this time of year and am sad to see the dark begin to recede. What a beautiful night to enjoy the light of the fire and the light of the full moon. The light always returns in more ways than one.
For those of us in the US, July brings up a sense of freedom. Freedom from schedules, freedom from the dark days of winter, the cold, each other, oppression, tyranny, working to find freedom from the heat, the sun, the laziness that takes over during the summer months. We symbolize July as a month of freedom. Yet as Shawn Mullins sings in The Gulf of Mexico, “freedom’s just a metaphor when you’ve got now where to go” and many of us are just giving lip service to the idea of freedom, we don’t feel free at all.
Many of us feel stuck in our lives. We are locked into work schedules that make us feel like we are on a marry-go-round we can’t get off, locked into debt so we have to stay on the wheel, in relationships we find un-inspiring to say the least. We claim to be free, but we aren’t. We are stuck in patterns that get us to the same spot everyday and we hate it, and we are scared to make the jump to what we really want.
Most of us have been taught we must be “this” or “that”, we must live up to the expectations set for us, stuck under someone else’s rule. We must continue to produce in our society to be worthy, which keeps us stuck feeling unworthy. Many of us learned that we must have all the same things as the people around us have, which keeps us feeling less than. We learned that we should have those things even if we can’t afford them, which keeps us locked in work we hate. We learned that if we don’t stay on the track created for us we have failed and let others down. Ugh, it feels heavy just to write all that. Are you ready to change these patterns and really find freedom?
First, you’ve got to look inside. By slowing down and really listening to your own voice you find the way out. As you listen, take note of what feels exciting for you, where do you lose time doing tasks and it’s exhilarating, where do you finish an intense project and feel fulfilled, not drained and overwhelmed? What brings excitement to your life? These are all hints of your calling and the unique gifts you have to give the world.
Second, look for ways to incorporate the above excitement into everyday life. Freedom isn’t always about doing whatever you feel like in the moment, but it is about doing what you love and what brings you joy. As you balance your daily life between things you want to do and things that help you live that life (like work, I love electricity and flushing toilets, I want to earn enough money to pay for those things, even if I don’t always like the work) you find joy in daily living. The Budda said “Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise, the wise man, gathering it little by little, fills himself with good”. This tells us focusing on the small things, little by little, you fill yourself up. Little by little we build a life full of joy. It’s by doing the small things everyday that you fill your internal well of happiness.
Third, you must notice. I don’t know how many hours I’ve spent with people telling them to notice the small joy that surrounds them everyday. Somedays people fight me on this one – hard. They can’t seem to find even the smallest glimmer of good in their daily life, but you know what, they always figure something out. Things that bring drops of joy into your life are little, they are things like the way the breeze feels on your skin, the way the sun glints through the tree leaves as they dance, the way the water sounds as it tumbles into the pot. The feeling of knowing you did a good job or having something to eat. Joy comes in small drops and it comes from within.
The way to find joy is to notice. Most of us are so distracted everyday we miss all those small important and mundane moments. We have to notice and drink them in. This is the only way they’ll pile up and life will have the balance and focus we crave. As we find these small items, the profound finds us.
So many of us are busy looking forward to or searching for the profound event that we miss filling up our inner well, and then feel that life is boring, uninspiring, or un-motivating. We feel that pull of doubt saying “what’s life worth living for anyway”? Before we know it our life is the burden of the metaphor – “freedom isn’t free when you’ve got no place to go”.
Today, break free for real. Get out of your pattern and start to notice all the joy that surrounds you. Delight in the mundane and everyday occurrences that are pretty profound in themselves – like the way my stove lights and my toilet flushes, wondering what the dog is really smelling, hearing the pine trees talking to you, and watching the pattern of people and traffic on a busy street corner. Today take the challenge to pay attention to your life before it passes you by – today find your joy.
I often get asked how to create more joy. People come into my office and ask “how can I be more happy”. The answer isn’t in big changes. The answer lies in your perception of everyday.
When you make small conscious choices to notice more of what’s around you joy begins to follow. When you make a conscious choice to look for good things – we can all find the crap – it’s those of us who find the beauty that surrounds it who find where joy lives. Deep within us.
Finding joy can be difficult to do, especially if you’ve been taught to find the negative. Here are 11 actions you can use to bring more joy into your life starting right now.
Rest more – we hear this all the time, and the reality is rest helps us balance our lives, our bodies, and our emotions. By making sure you are getting enough rest – not just sleep but rest – throughout your day, you are more likely to enjoy your days more.
Take it slow – along with more rest comes taking it easy. This isn’t about doing less, but being more deliberate in what you do chose to do. Rather than rushing from item to item on your to do list, build in buffer time. Personally I struggle with transitions and “wasting time” if I arrive somewhere early. However, in reality the 10 minutes I think I’m “wasting” help make sure I go to the bathroom, find a parking place, and arrive in a relaxed mood for my next project etc making the quality of my life much better. By slowing down a bit I notice more and am more engaged. In the end it doesn’t get wasted after all. Thanks – Roxann – still hard for me, but great advice!
Laugh – hard, really hard. Laughing is good for our physical system and good for our soul. Find something every day that makes you laugh. Maybe it’s a movie, a song, a child playing joyfully, a friend who tells funny jokes. Doesn’t matter where you find your inspiration as long as you can laugh deeply and fully – big belly laughs. Don’t have anything to laugh at? Here’s a trick … just start laughing. The physical sensations and act of beginning will eventually keep it going.
Find Water – this time of year those of us in the northern hemispheres are feeling the heat cranking up. It’s time to find water. Water helps us release and let go, it helps us recognize that all things are fluid and to find strength. If you haven’t seen the strength of water’s steady determination check out this video … just might help you figure out how to accomplish #5 & 8 below:
Watch the moon come up and find the stars – for many of us, the lazier days and later sunsets have us up into the late evenings. Go outside and find the moon. Watch as she rises and the stars come out. We need moon light just like we need sunlight. Enjoy a full moon hike or lay out under the stars while it’s warm and enjoy preparing for sleep in the quiet of the evening.
Smell the “green” – During the summer months when plants are in full swing there is more oxygen kicking around and you can smell it J Humans like oxygen. Take advantage by taking deep breaths and observing the behavior of leaves, the feel of the breeze, and the smell of “green” as I used to call it when I was little. Up here in the Rocky Mountains flatlanders pay for this stuff (in bottled form) on the ski slopes and in their hotel rooms. When the trees and grass is green no need to shell out the extra bucks.
Read – Summertime is a great time to read. Find a good book or two and just lounge while you read. Get into your imagination as you make your way through a story. It is so fun to find good reads and finish them under the sun or in the shade of a great tree made just for leaning against.
Hang with friends – in the season of vacations – the ones we chose, not necessarily the obligated ones we experience in the winter, allow us to pick our adventures and who we want to adventure with. Find some friends, find an adventure, enjoy! Then repeat.
Start your day with mindfulness – by taking some moments to enjoy your morning beverage on the porch (because it’s warmer) you have the option to breathe deeply and experience # 6 above or talk to a passing neighbor (human or animal) enjoying # 8. By starting with mindful observation you participate in #2 and I think your day incorporates more of #1 just because you set it up to start that way.
Sleep in or wake up early – many of us have an altered schedule in the summer. Be it due to school being out, or co-workers and clients on and off vacation, many of us have something slightly different in the summertime. So take advantage. Maybe you want to do # 5 above so you sleep in, maybe you want to wake up with the sun and have a full fun and long day. Whichever your preference today – make it happen.
Did I say rest more? Even if you ignore all the others on this list … make sure you get this one done!
There is more and more research coming out about meditation on the benefits on mood, emotional regulation, ability to concentrate and focus, as well as, brain development and changes in those who meditate … for the better even as we age.
If your idea of meditation is sitting quietly, legs crossed, eyes closed, with a weird hand position – think again. There are lots of ways to mediate. One popular way is to move. During mindful movement you pay close attention to all the sensations of the body, the way your body moves in space, your breathing, and your muscles. Begin right now. Notice how your body is being held in space. Do you feel places of tension? Ease? Move your arms up, and then return to your starting position. Turn your hands over and back. Walk forward, sit, stand, turn.
As you perform these movements move slowly and pay attention. What does the area around your body feel like? What’s the sensation of the air on your skin? Notice if your body feels like it is pulsing? How far does that pulsing move away from your physical self? Where does your breath go in the body? Can you move it into places you have not paid attention to yet? Places you feel “stuck” or places of tension?
Spend 1-5min noticing these items then return to whatever activity you were doing. Notice how you have changed by taking a short break. How is your concentration, focus, mood? Make a note – mental or physical and plan to repeat maybe today, maybe tomorrow. Just know you are going to continue to practice this mindful movement.
All the time I hear people say “I just need more motivation and then I’ll be able to stick to a workout plan”. It’s not more motivation they need it’s inspiration.
I cannot motivate anyone to workout, I can’t motivate anyone not to, either. All I can do is act and support in ways that inspire others toward being their best selves. However, even that isn’t enough. People need to find their own sources of inspiration – which could be a picture, a blog, a phone call with a friend, watching another person doing the thing they’d like to do – to maintain and build their motivation.
So today, go find a thing or two that you can use each day as inspiration toward your goals to help you build and maintain your motivation to complete the mundane steps of daily exercise and healthy eating. Then get ready to use them everyday and watch your progress grow!
As with all things … things will be changing soon. Take some time to consider these questions. Although your answers are really just for you, it does help when you actively write things down.
When you write you take an abstract thought and make it concrete on the paper. It’s easier to stick with concrete ideas as you continue to change your behaviors. When you consider what you’ve learned through the last month, where do you see yourself going next? How do you want to continue to work toward and reach your goals? What did you try that didn’t work, that you might want to adjust? What worked great? What surprises did you have?
Here’s 7 sentences to help you notice your accomplishments, create motivation, find your focus, and set your next successful goal. Write a statement to your current self from your future self:
This last year has been_______. I am so grateful I accomplished ______. I am most proud of ______ and thankful to myself for _______. These last 5 years have been ______. I am so thankful to have accomplished_______. I am most proud of ______ and grateful to myself for _________. I am so happy I am planning to accomplish _______ next.
Answer them as honestly as you can. Answer as if you really have reached your goals, are the person you hope to become, and as though you’re ready to set your next goal for your future. Do not concern yourself with the how you are going to get these items done or financial burdens of completing them right now.
Need focus to Live with Intent? Try an online class to help you focus yourself and make your goals happen.
As you continue to focus on your goals you will find the opportunities you need to make them happen. Remember, what you put your attention to is what you will find. Want something different in your life … You better be focusing on what you want rather than what you don’t want. Need some motivation? Check out this video and let the words sink in … you can do what you put your mind to.
I have done these exercises for years. I like to distill my thoughts into bullet points I file away. Every so often I take them out and am amazed at how much I accomplished on the list, yet had forgotten I’d put on the list in the first place. Now it’s your turn – see what you can make happen next!
I thought it posed an interesting question that lead to simple or complex answers. It made me think beyond the New Year’s detox diets, breaking up with sugar rules, and weight loss desires.
My answer included all aspects of my life, my food & beverages, my exercise habits – do I train too hard? Too light? Not enough? Too much? The things I let into my awareness – news, music, people, TV, photos, etc, and the concept of who I want to be. All these role together to create my concept of clean living.
Clean living is about burning away all the choices that clog you up. Living clean is about staying grounded enough to be open to the possibilities that cross your path.
One cannot do that without feeling well. For me to feel well and remain open I must be vigilant about my daily movement, my food, my spaces, and my social times.
I must honor myself in each choice doing just what is needed to move me in the direction I want to go. Doing too much will clog me up, doing too little will clog the path.
To remain clean I must focus on the pleasure of treating my mind, my body, my heart, and my soul well. It starts simply with movement and is followed by what I allow in. Will this food item, news report, musical song, person help or hinder me?
Then I must choose wisely, burn away all that is no longer serving me, let go of all I no longer need, and live fully into the moment right in front of me. That is clean living.
Can you truly accept yourself? Fully accept yourself? Just as you, today, in this moment, whatever it brings? So many of us answer a big fat Loud NO. We have all sorts of reasons we aren’t good enough and plenty of ways we could be acceptable … If we’d just ____________ (Get it together). Today lets focus on what we are doing well.
In what area of your life are you proud of yourself? Really proud of yourself, not in service of your children, parents, employer, or anyone else. Where are you really proud of you, your actions, behaviors, commitment, follow though, etc.
What is a small change you can make right now, today to be a little better at this? Keep in mind sustainable change in lifestyle habits happens in small (think 10%) increments. Must be realistic within your time frame, make it specific, and measurable. This is the SMART goal principle developed by George Doran (1981). You are better off stating “I’ll eat 2 more servings of vegetables today. One at breakfast and one at dinner” rather than “I will eat more healthy today”.
How was that exercise? Easy? Difficult? Were you able to find something you love about yourself? If not, I wonder why not. I may not know you and yet, I do know if you found nothing to be proud of it’s bullshit and old learning. I have seen the under belly of human experience and still find treasures there. It doesn’t have to a huge thing. We are looking for the big AND the small things. For example I was really proud of the way I used a new skill of asking questions this morning while I was talking to my husband. This mattered to me because it helped me be more effective in my communication and if I can use this skill in one more conversation today (2) and add 10% more tomorrow (2.2 conversations) soon I will be having effective communication in more than half my conversations, and then most of them before you know it. With each interaction I will feel a little more mastery (the key to building self-esteem) and pride. As I build those I begin to approve of myself more and more, leading to more and more positive change in my life. So I’ll ask you again …
Follow the above prompts now that you’ve found your thing. If you are still stuck … Maybe that one thing to be proud of is that you don’t give up on this exercise. ?
Know that getting stuck isn’t the problem. We all get stuck. It’s staying stuck that is. The way out of the muck is to shift your thinking. It isn’t easy if you’ve been caught In a negative rut, to turn toward the positive, drop your judgment of yourself and others, and stop listening to the negative vibes of others. Commit to yourself and work on remaining in a positive frame of thought for 10% more of your day today.
If some of these words are too strong for you right now change them to make sense for you. I challenge you to consider why not use these words?