‘The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive.’ ~Thich Nhat Hanh
We live in a fast and furious world of penciled in schedules where after working a shift, there remains a list of errands to run and appointments to catch. We want it all and we can have it. We live in a world of plenty. This truly is a time of excess so we indulge. After a day of work fulfilling our quest for more, we turn into the drive thru of one of the countless outlets waiting to furnish food for those on the go. At home, entertainment is at our finger tips with a myriad of TV programs, movies or hours of connectivity on the internet to hold our attention and dull our creativity. We have it all and we allow the ease of our existence to lure us into a well practiced boredom that bleaches our lives of pleasure. We are: rushed, fed up, distracted and unfocused as one day slips into the next until the month is over, the season complete, another year lost. Is it any wonder that so many are bored and looking for the path to happiness? That so many have forgotten the joy of simply being? Yes, even abundance can lead to problems, the biggest of which is a life not enjoyed.
Are you longing for a more fulfilling existence? Then shake off that blasé attitude and reclaim your life.
5 Steps to Happiness:
1. Slow down. Yes, it's the old Buddhist, "Be Mindful". It's a very simple concept and it works. Just try it. As you go about your life, stop to notice what is going on around you. Allow yourself to 'wake' and see the beauty of the world. You may walk this path everyday on the way to your car but have you ever paused to notice the array of colorful flowers blooming all around you? Have you breathed deep the sweet scent of the blossoms as they release their perfumes upon the air? When was the last time you paused to regard the hummingbird that stopped in mid-flight hovering as he regards you? When did you last notice the gentle stirring of the breeze on your check or lift your face to the warmth of the sun? It only takes an instant to enjoy the moment. It is the awareness of these small things, the felt connection to a world that is so much larger than us, that enrich our existence and raise us from a drone as it shifts us back into being the main character of our life.
2. Do what you love. We live in a connected society where modern life offers so many forms of distraction. The television alone provides a gamut of entrainment and with the simple click of a mouse we can log into an infinite world of information and a network of social media sites. Sure it's fun but do you spend every evening watching reality tv, playing Farmville or reading cyber-friend's posts on facebook? Or do live your life?
Next time you have a free hour, instead blinking at a glowing screen, do what you love! Aspire to be whatever it is you call yourself. Are you a writer, a gardener, a quilter or a cook? Then get creative! Embrace your passion as you do whatever it is that you love to do. Allow the act of creation to transform your life from dull to inspired. Don't get mired in the concept, just begin where you are. If you have a garden, go dig in the dirt, weed, and deadhead and be mindful as the experience washes through you, reconnecting you to nature and a way of life that is ancient and rich. If you are a painter, spend some time in study as you plot out a new project. Allow yourself to hear the whispered inspirations of Divinity as your muse comes to life.
The art of creation, of delving into an artistic endeavor connects us to our Divine spark, the god within us, the inner voice that is our direct link to the vast well that is: knowledge, wisdom, love and inner peace. By engaging in the creative process, we not only connect with all that is, but we shift from a passive existence to an active one providing a true experience that allows satisfaction at the completion of something created, something formed, a goal attained. It is in this completion we find fulfillment and our lives once again gain meaning.
3. Claim the day. So it's your day off. How are you going to spend it? Are you going to waste it on errands and tv programming or are you going to do something fun? I know you have children/spouses/pets/friends whom are reliant upon you but when was the last time you did something fun just for you? When was the last time you went to the beach/forest/lake/dessert? Where do you live and what is it your community has to offer? What do tourists do when they come to your city? Why not check out a tourist guide and spend the day exploring your community? It is in these moments that new memories are created, that wonder is found and joy is reclaimed: the walk to the park with your child, the solitary trip to the beach, the mindful hike down the forest path with your dog, an afternoon hunt through the flea market with your best friend. There are new experiences waiting all around you: new places to discover, new events to attend, dishes to taste, new people to meet. Make the most of it by being open, being present, being mindful as you savor the experience. There is a multitude of new experiences waiting to be discovered. It's up to you to slip the routine and savor you life.
4. Simplicity. It is a simple concept, just consume less and enjoy more. But we are a world of consumers staining our budgets to acquire needless things. Too many of us shop for recreation, like crows eyeing shiny trinkets. We live in a capitalist society that relentlessly promotes the drive to consume so we constantly fine ourselves acquiring things we do not really need, spending money we don't have, incurring more debt and more depression.
Next time you are out and find yourself with another full basket, pause to consider each item and whether or not you really need it. Why are you buying that lotion? Sure it smells nice but don't you already own three bottles that are at home in your drawer? Do you really need another? When you stop buying things out of desire to possess and instead buy for need, you will discover that you actually need to buy a lot less. This allows your cost of living to be reduced, allowing for more to be spent on food, gas, bills and other essentials.
5. Be Grateful. Lastly it truly is all about perception and how we go about 'seeing' our world and our place in it. Look at all the wonders around you and rejoice. Allow your heart to swell with joy as you count your blessings. Be mindful of your good health and all that you have and all of the potential you have to be. Give thanks for the abundance in your life. Savor your moments and be appreciative for each small pleasure: the amazing flavor of your morning coffee, the luxury of a long hot shower, the comfort of your kitchen at meal time, the simple fact that there is food in your fridge.
Having an attitude of gratitude nourishes the soul so don't forget to count your blessings and smile. By cultivating a spirit of gratitude, we fill our inner well of peace. The simple act of being grateful can transform one into a happier person, and in turn will make others happy to be around that person. So be thankful for everything. Be thankful for your job. Yes I know, sometimes we all hate our job but look at the positive benefits you reap from it. Give thanks for your abilities and your chance to improve upon them. Be grateful for the challenges you must face. Deal with these challenges with a positive outlook and see how much quicker you conquer them. Allow yourself to marvel at your abilities and at how wonderful you feel in your accomplishments.
It's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and let days, weeks and even months slip by. Don't live another day passively. Do what you love and transform your life into a tender, ecstatic, gorgeous life. We only have one, so make the most of your time here.