As a mom, I am constantly telling my children to take more risks: call a friend, invite over the new neighbor, try out for the team, enter the race, ask the teacher, etc, etc. I’m like a coach, yelling from the sidelines, telling each one how to get in the game. However, my enthusiasm and You-can-do-it attitude seems to be wearing thin with my older kids. I am pretty sure they are on to me. From their point of view, I am simply on the sidelines, barking out commands. While I am certain I earned the right to be the coach of this team, I know the best mentors are the ones who lead by example and show, not just tell, how the game is played.
It is easy to get caught up in our own rhythm and familiar patterns. As adults, we know what we are good at and what we are not. We let go of challenging our assumptions. We become complacent. We lock away the side of ourselves that once thrived on living just outside our comfort zone. We start forgetting how to take chances. With the Spring energy blossoming and renewing the Earth, new possibilities for getting in the game are all around us. Here is a list of three ways to jump back in:
1. Pursue something with no outcome
Invite friends over without orchestrating the meal ahead of time. Go for a hike with no destination. Dump out all the odds and ends of every art kit not completed and enjoy creating. In this fast-paced world of social media that our children were born into, we sometimes forget that experiences are about relishing each moment, not just about being able to post the end result. It only takes being on Pinterest for a few minutes to receive the gift of inspiration-and the curse of comparison. We start to feel like everyone has achieved more, done more or gone further than we ever could. We remain small, taking fewer risks, and begin to live up to our own labels: “I am not a creative person” “I’m not good at sports” “I am just too type-A for that.” If we push past our need to control the outcome, we can start to let our body be in the same place, at the same time. We can begin to enjoy sinking into an experience rather than just celebrating achievements. We can show others- and even surprise ourselves- with the beauty that is created when we decide to be here, now.
Being Mindful doesn’t mean to play it safe.
2. Expand your perspective through “beginner’s mind”
Pretend you just moved to town. Hop on to Goggle or Yelp to find a new restaurant, a new shop to browse in, or a landmark to visit. Pretend to be a tourist in your own state and make your destination a place you have passed by a thousand times but have never stopped in to see. Start a vegetable garden. Plant an herb bed. Ask an acquaintance for help. Ask that person whose overflowing flower pots you have always admired from afar or the neighbor who spends hours outside creating a breath-taking landscape. Take the time to get your hands dirty, show up with a thirst for curiosity, admit you don’t know how, and seek the guidance of others. Just following a different path and taking the time to be in nature can give us the pause we need to change our perspective.
Being Mindful means changing the lens in which we view our world.
3. Create an internal happiness through daily action
Happiness is an inside job. Most of us let outside events influence our mood, how we feel about ourselves, and to a certain extent, how we even feel about our own lives. We start letting the exterior landscape guide our emotions. The compliment we receive has us on cloud nine, while the snub pulls us back down. We seem to crash instead of glide through this world. Many approach happiness with statements like, “I will be happy when…” This time, try not to focus on the result, focus on the daily action. Planning to sign up for that 5K? Go ahead. It might seem like a bold thing to do, but the real happiness will come from being brave enough to commit to the daily action needed to reach that goal. Instead of saying, “I will be happy when I can finish a 5K,” plan instead to run each day at 7am, for fifteen minutes a day, for two weeks. Research has found that it is easier to do something on a consistent daily basis than every once in awhile. Incorporating it in your daily routine will help build healthy habits. Lean just far enough into the future to think about what you are really willing to commit to today.
Being Mindful means to show up fully in our commitments.
Late in the evening, I climbed the stairs, ready to retire for the night. It had been a busy day. A basketball tournament with an early morning arrival time, followed by two games, homework, baseball practice, and friends over for Sunday dinner. As I quietly approached my son’s room to turn off his reading light, I expected to see a long, lean figure sprawled across the bed in a heap of exhaustion. Instead, my eleven year old popped up from underneath his covers, ready to tell me even more about his day. He recalled the songs he sang in the car ride home; the basketball game shots he took: the ones he made and the ones he didn’t; and his wish to go some place warm to escape the long winter days that had spilled into Spring.
“I thought you would be sound asleep- you had such a busy day. Aren’t you exhausted?”
“Mom, there is so much good things going on, I didn’t have time to ponder them all.”
And so it is. He was literally too excited to go to sleep. Honestly, most of the good things in my life, I view from the coach’s sideline, managing and orchestrating and simply taking it all for granted. I certainly don’t take time to ponder all the good tings— and definitely not with child-like wonder and exuberance. As adults, we cram in the to-do’s, the needs of others, the stress and we almost forget that life isn’t just about existing to get to another day, but rather the excitement of being alive. There are so many good things in each of our lives. When was the last time you couldn’t contain your enthusiasm for this one big, beautiful life you were given?
Kimberlea Chabot is the founder of a hyper-local resource for holistic living called LuckyPennyFound. Please visit www.luckypennyfound.com for more information. Kimberlea lives in West Hartford, Connecticut and considers her husband of 18 years and their three children to be both her greatest blessings – and her greatest challenge to living mindfully. Kimberlea is a regular contributor to the Copper Beech Institute blog, Awaken Everyday.
Copper Beech Institute is the nation’s newest retreat center for mindfulness and contemplative practice located in West Hartford, Connecticut. We offer more than 40 transformational retreats and courses, as well as mindfulness practice and mindfulness at work offerings to help you find the calm, compassion and true happiness you seek.
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