Have you ever made dinner and thought it was the best thing since sliced bread, only to reheat it for lunch the next day and it’s subpar at best? Well, unfortunately, that seems to be the case with the “to be continued” blog from last night. I was on a roll (in my head) and had so much to add to the next blog, but upon starting today, it doesn’t hold the same pizzaz. So, here’s the gist of intuition. If you need to make a big or small decision, try this. Step away for a moment and peacefully sit. When thinking about the situation, what is your first reaction? When thinking about your options, what is your first reaction? Most likely, that will be your guide. If you doubt your choice, reevaluate. You are always allowed to change your mind. And you are always allowed to keep the course of your first instinct.
And now, moving on! What have you done today to make yourself happy? What have you done this last week that was just for you? How about this last month? Most people strain to remember a time when they weren’t working, commuting, cooking or cleaning. I would read these blogs about women taking morning baths, spending a quiet hour clearing their chakras and treating themselves to a massage once a month. I would assume these women weren’t married or mothers or animal owners because who has that kind of time to carelessly throw around?!? Turns out, it’s not really an option. Your health depends on it.
Making time and space for yourself has been medically proved to reduce stress, increase your immune system, and can slow the aging process. There is a catch though. The whole “time and space” thing is limited. To get these results, you can’t have media stimulation (I’m talking boob tube and iPad) or distractions that keep you from centering yourself. Of course, there are distractions even without those things. It’s called a monkey mind, and it’s the part of you that starts to mentally write a grocery list, or prepare a speech to your husband about hanging up the bath towel after a showering or tries to remember if you recorded “Real Housewives of New Jersey”. This is something that can be mastered over time, but gently letting these thoughts drift out and not paying heed to them is a good start. Eventually, these thoughts are spaced out farther and farther apart and clean, quiet space is replaced. Hours upon hours of meditating is not required to achieve the health benefits. Take a moment in the shower to close your eyes and breath. Try to go to bed a little earlier and spend a few quiet minutes meditating before falling asleep. This may not sound like fun to you, but you will notice a calm and peace throughout your day if you incorporate small meditation moments.
Now onto my favorite part! Happiness! It took me quite a while to hone in on what makes me happy. For the longest time, I thought TV made me happy. I couldn’t wait until the girls were in bed and I could hunker down and watch a few mindless shows before bed. Sometimes I would watch something of substance, like a documentary or have a movie night with my husband, which was always enjoyed. But something interesting would normally happened. I would drag myself away after two or three hours and feel lethargic and dull. I wouldn’t sleep very well, which would result in a groggy morning. The worst part was that I have a never-ending list of things I wanted and needed to do, and I wasn’t making a dent in it. After weeks (aka months) of this strange rhythm, a little lightbulb went off and I felt my brain starting to rewire. I started “my time” with cleaning the house up, so it was fresh and tidy in the morning. Then I’d spend about an hour replying to emails, writing thank you letters and coming up with an appealing weekly menu and grocery list. After that, I’d do what made my soul sing. I started a list of what truly made me happy. Things like taking a bath, reading a book that has nothing to do with nutrition or cancer or parenting, “pinning”, meditation and cooking. I would pick something from that list and fill my night with it. I was going to bed content, and sleeping like a baby (except when the baby wasn’t sleeping like a baby!) and I was waking up content and ready to start a new day in my already tidy house.
Understandably, not every day turns out this way. But what I realized is that it needs to be something I add to the mandatory list. Even if it’s only sitting in the sun for five minutes, it will make me happy for those three hundred seconds and that will hopefully carry over into some of the day. When I’m happy, my babies seem happier, which makes papa bear happy. And then, we feel like we are doing something right in this world! All from remembering that you are just as important as everyone else in your life, and to take the time to show your appreciation for all that you do. It’s like giving yourself a bonus for a job well done! And who doesn’t want a little quality time as a reward??
Helpful hint of the day: Meditation is like taking a minivacation, a quick “reset” for your brain, body and nervous system. In our culture, most people do best with structured meditation, rather than trying to “empty” the mind. This is one of my favorite ways to start my day.
LOVING KINDNESS MEDITATION
Say each phrase on an exhale, repeating four times:
For yourself; a loved one; for someone you don’t know well who needs it.
“May I (you) be filled with loving kindness.” “May I be well.” “May I be peaceful and at ease.” “May I be happy.”
You’ll find that saying these out loud will put your intentions for the day out in the open.
To end, here are a few more things that make me giddy with delight! Go out and find your happiness!
*Please note: All of this pictures were stealthily taken from Pinterest. I take no credit and if one of these are rightfully yours, I thank you for inspiring happiness in myself and the people that read this blog. If you have an issue with me using your picture, email me and I will have my daughter send you a hand drawn thank you card. Cheers!