I just finished a novel about two friends. It’s called Leonard and Hungry Paul by Ronan Hession. Nothing much happens and yet it was immersive. Why? Because the author does a great job of describing the every day of their lives. And in those every day moments – making breakfast, topping up the bird feeders, getting the shopping in, doing work, interacting with friends and family with moments of togetherness and moments of misunderstanding – there is joy.
What’s in your every day today? Pause, Look. See. Don’t miss the joy alongside the tough stuff.
I have been intentionally noticing water, possibly because of a few days’ heatwave in the UK! And as I have practiced noticing it – being aware of it rather than just taking it for granted – I have been so thankful.
Turning the tap . . . to drink, to wash, to water plants. Going to a swimming pool and enjoying the coolness of the water. Watching (brief) rain . . . and breathing deep afterwards to smell the earthiness in the damp air. Watching a documentary about the Earth’s oceans and how their flow nurtures life.
Water, vital for life. Notice. Be thankful. Know the richness of what you have.
Just the act of choosing to notice and being thankful for one thing will change your perspective on so many things. Give it a go – today.
Whether you are a committed sports fan or not, you can’t avoid sport in the UK at the moment. Alongside millions, I have been watching great sportspeople perform at massive sports events. (And yes, you win some and you lose some!)
Behind each event are sportspeople who have trained, day after day. Without the crowds. Without competition adrenaline. Without sure reward.
Let’s share the joy (and the pain) of these events. Let’s also note the discipline.
Is there something you would love to achieve or do? Mindfulness is about living in the present but it is also about planning for the future, taking actions in the present which increase the likelihood of something happening in the future.
These sportspeople train each day with a future win in mind. Is there something you need to do each day to prepare for a better present and future? Sure we can’t always win but we can influence being well placed!
In mindfulness, there is often a focus on ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’ – an encouragement to ‘just be’. And yet mindfulness is equally relevant to when we are doing something, not just being.
We can practice giving our complete attention to whatever we are doing, whether it is something we enjoy or not. Did you notice the word ‘practice’? That’s because we have to remind ourselves to give our complete attention – we need to practice doing it because it takes practice – and we need to treat ourselves with kindness while we practice rather than beating ourselves up when we forget.
Brushing your teeth? Give it your complete attention. Stacking the dishwasher? Give it your complete attention. Typing an email? Give it your complete attention. Talking to a friend? Give them your complete attention. Going for a walk? Give it your complete attention. As you give something your complete attention, you will amazed what you notice, how you use your senses.
As we give full attention to whatever we’re doing – which psychologists sometimes call ‘living in a state of flow’ – we may find a sense of contentment or happiness. And that encourages us to keep going in the practice of mindfulness – in what we are doing as well as just being.
Ah yes, multi-tasking. Ditch it. Give your full attention to whatever you’re doing. You’ll be the happier for it.
I walked up hill behind someone this week. I tried to match their stride. I could do it for a short time but they were taller than I am – and perhaps fitter! – so it didn’t last for long. I couldn’t match their stride for any period of time.
Why was I trying to? Okay, that was just a momentary individual game on a walk but what if I was trying to do that generally in life? That would cause me to be constantly living at other people’s paces, seeking to be like other people, comparing myself with others.
It would mean I am missing finding my own pace, my own pattern, my own beliefs and values – the way I choose to live life and make sense of life. That would be a shame.
Each of us is unique. Our pace is unique. Explore your pace (not someone else’s). Celebrate your pace. Yes, we learn from the experiences of others. But we remain – uniquely – us!