Sometimes life has a way of getting in the way of our happiness and our ability to be grateful. We get in a funk and are only capable of seeing what’s wrong.
I’ve been working myself silly lately on projects I love with crazy deadlines. After about three months of this, my body and psyche are telling me they’ve had enough. Instead of looking outward to be open to others, they’re shutting down and focusing on the negative.
After operating on overdrive for the past three months, my mind is losing its ability to focus and see the good all around me. Without sufficient rest, it starts looking for what it doesn’t have and that can be much more than rest.
Because of my crazy schedule and lack of energy and focus, it’s been entirely too long since I’ve written here. And that really sucks.
I’ve been moaning about people close to me not wanting to spend time with me, not getting out and doing fun things, not having time to rest, not…, not…, not… As if someone is going to swoop in and suddenly deliver on all my complaints. Ha!
Even someone who understands mindfulness and personal responsibility at a very deep level can get off track and forget the basics.
Time for Change: Focus on the Great Stuff
I’m finally snapping out of it. Just as I was being cranky about certain people not wanting to spend time with me, it dawned on me: In order for them to want to spend time with me, I need to be the kind of person they would want to spend time with. Not the tired, cranky witch I’ve been lately. Duh!
And how do I do that? By shifting from focusing on what’s missing from my life to all the awesomeness in my life right now. Things like:
- My amazing, supportive family
- Looking into the deep, beautiful blue pools of my children’s eyes
- The wonderfully beautiful place where I live
- My health
- My 3+ hour commute each day that gives me time for solitude, thinking and learning from listening to books and great podcasts
- Yoga and meditation – while the time for them has been reduced lately, I couldn’t live without them
- The great, supportive people I work with every day
- My job where I have the freedom to create positive change and support others professionally and personally
- Being able to work from home occasionally
- Healthy foods
- A supportive and encouraging community here at Simple Mindfulness (thank you so much!!)
Now that I’ve pulled my thinking out of the mud, I’m ready to make time for the things I love, the things that energize and nourish me. It’s time to prioritize myself.
I’m the one that chooses how I spend my time. If I’m “too busy” for something, I’m simply saying that something or someone else is more important. We all make time for what our subconscious deems most important.
Yes, I’ve been working with a number of challenging (mostly self-induced) deadlines at work but I’m human and can only do so much in a day. I’m seeing and feeling the negative effects of pushing too hard for too long.
It’s time to slow down, take better care of myself, rest and have some fun.
And how do I do that? By making more conscious choices about how I spend my time. By regularly reminding myself that I get less of what I want when I don’t take care of myself and push myself too hard. The less I give to myself, the less I have to give to others and the well quickly runs dry.
From today forward I’m:
- Making time for my full yoga and meditation practice
- Eating and drinking healthier
- Deeply breathing more often
- Playing with my family more often
- Getting back to a regular writing routine
- Reminding myself that things won’t fall apart when I take care of myself.
Notice the Beliefs that Drive You
One of my most damaging subconscious thoughts has been that work comes before play. I think this is one of the most insidious beliefs in our society that leads to unhappiness. Here are some of its damaging implications:
- Work and play cannot be the same thing.
- Work isn’t supposed to be fun.
- Play is a frivolity that shouldn’t be taken seriously.
- Play has little or no benefit.
- Work is always most important.
- Nothing productive will happen if we aren’t working.
- Bad things will happen if we don’t get all our work done.
Under this premise, there’s never time for play because there’s always plenty of work to be done. And if we’re always working, we can’t be having fun. And if we’re not having fun, we can’t be happy.
I’m working very hard to reprogram this limiting and damaging belief because I’ve experienced the exact opposite of the above implications. I know they’re all lies.
Play is critically important to our well-being. Work, especially busy work, is not.
A powerful way to put work in its place is to create a distinct time and place for it. Put limits on it and know that the sky won’t fall on you if you don’t keep working until everything is done. It will never be done. Your inbox will still be full on the day you die. [Tweet this]
Decide what your work hours and place are and don’t let them ooze into the rest of your fun-filled life.
You can also find ways of changing how you see work so that work can be fun (maybe not every minute of it but most of the time).
4 Simple Steps to Happiness
Sometimes it can feel very difficult to get yourself out of a rut. Here are four easy steps to shift you in a happier direction:
Step 1: Realize you’re in a rut and want to get out.
Step 2: Shift your thinking from what you don’t have to what you do have.
Step 3: Prioritize yourself instead of work and other people’s priorities. The more you put yourself low on your priority list, the more your life will suck.
Step 4: Act on your revised priorities. Take care of yourself first. Put work in its place. Do this every day.
What can you change to choose yourself today?
Calling all readers!
I write about quite a variety of topics, looking at them through the eyes of mindfulness. I tend to write about things I’m experiencing in my own life.
But I want to make sure I’m writing about what you want to read. Are there questions you’d like me to answer? Topics you would like me to write about or write more about? Wondering about different ways of looking at the same old things?
I want to hear from you! Leave a comment or send me an email at Paige [at] PaigeBurkes [dot] com and let me know what you’re up to and how I can support you.
I just found my new favorite mindfulness app: Chill. It's just what I need in the middle of a hectic day to remind me that all is well in this moment and to simply breathe. You can set it to give you up to five reminders a day to be mindful like:
"Take a moment to think of someone you love. Feel that love inside you. Sit silently with that feeling for a moment."
"Feel the silence inside you. Feel how expansive that silence is. You're as vast as the sky."
"You are right here, right now. Don't let your thoughts tell you otherwise. Breathe in this moment."
Chill also provides beautiful daily quotes from Buddha, Lao Tzu and other Zen masters on a backdrop of a peaceful image. With a touch of a button you can also share these quotes via text, email and all the social sites. The app's curator is a Buddhist ordained in the tradition of Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. The quotes are based in Buddhist ideas of mindfulness but come from many traditions. They speak about the challenges we all face, and how to mindfully center ourselves in the midst of modern life.
It's free or $1.99 if you want to get rid of the little ads at the bottom. It works on iOS and Apple Watch. You can find out more or download the app HERE.
What if the only thing between you and the answers you're looking for is the right question? The kind of question that can instantly cut through years of confusion, is worth a thousand words of advice, connects you to the wisdom of your heart and unlocks the truth inside you.
What is the right question? You can find yours somewhere in your deck of Inquiry Cards.
Each Inquiry Card - each question - is an opening to insight, intuition, intention, integrity, inspiration, inner compass, introspection, instinct, inner vision, involvement, integration, innate intelligence, intimacy and infinite possibilities.
It all begins with Inquiry. Because the answers are inside you.
I am loving my deck of Inquiry Cards! I've been using them for the past couple months. They come with a beautiful wooden stand where you can place the card/question that you're focusing on. Simply seeing the card on the stand on my desk reminds me to pause, take a deep breath and spend a moment asking my True Self the question and being open to whatever answers arise.
Have you been trying to start or maintain a meditation practice but life keeps getting in the way? I'm there with you - and I found a solution: Daily Meditation Videos delivered to your inbox every morning. They've been gently nudging me each day to take just a few minutes in the middle of my day to stop and breathe. The creator has done the hard part of culling great guided meditation videos from YouTube and delivering them to you in a simple, beautifully designed email. All you have to do is click, listen, relax and breathe.
The Mindful Body program includes many ideas that you can use every day to avoid gaining extra weight while keeping your energy and spirits high. It’s also a great gift to share with the special people in your life.