What if every day of the rest of your life was just like yesterday? How would you feel if nothing ever changed?
How you do one thing is how you do everything.
Almost everything you do all day is a habit. Waking up, getting dressed, eating, moving, how you treat people, work and relax. Your thoughts and emotions follow habits as well. And there’s an underlying theme to it all because how you do one thing is how you do everything.
Are you carrying around a few extra pounds while you stress about how to make others happy and have a hard time saying no? These all have the same underlying theme.
Are you perpetually late, find it hard to meet deadlines and have trouble maintaining positive relationships? Again, there’s a common theme.
- Do you want your life to be different? Do you want to be happier?
- What would you have to do differently today than you did yesterday?
- What habits and core beliefs would you have to change?
- Who would you have to become?
If you don’t focus on answering these questions and taking action on your answers today, you’ll find yourself at the end of your life wondering where the time went and why nothing ever changed.
Infuse Happiness Into Your Habits
As you move through the habits of your day, what’s running through your mind? How are you holding your body? How do you feel?
As you eat, are you mindlessly consuming what’s in your hand while on the run, reading or thinking about the million other things you have to do? Or are you calmly focusing on the smells, textures, and tastes of what you’re eating while doing nothing else?
When you listen to others speaking, are you half-heartedly listening while trying to think of your next response in order to get your point across? Or are you listening with a clear mind in order to hear the essence of what the other person is trying to communicate?
By being present in the moment more often, noticing and being grateful for all the wonderful little things in your life now, it’s possible to bring more happiness into your daily habits.
If you catch yourself judging yourself or others, notice it and change your thought to something positive.
When you feel stress building in your body and mind, notice it and realize that everything is just fine in the present moment. Stress is simply the anticipation of something bad happening in the future that has a very small chance of actually happening. [Tweet this]
Infusing Mindfulness Into Your Day
Mindfulness is slowing down to notice things without judging them.
There’s no “good” or “bad.” You simply choose whether you do or don’t want what you noticed in your life. Then act on that choice.
You can interpret mindful living as “intentional living.” When you realize that everything in your life is your choice and you take responsibility for your own choices, life becomes much happier.
Thinking that you have to take in everything and try to filter out the stuff you don’t want in your life can be exhausting. Instead, start with a clean slate and only allow into your life the people, things, and experiences that feed your soul. Be very intentional about what you allow into your life.
As you move through your day and experience negative people or hear some kind of bad news, ask yourself if you want that in your life. How can it benefit you? If people and experiences don’t support your core values and definition of happiness, let them fall away.
Pretend like you and everyone else live in unique little bubbles (actually, you don’t have to pretend because we all do). If you encounter something or someone that you don’t want in your bubble, imagine it bouncing off and heading in another direction while you stay happy inside.
Sometimes making these choices can upset other people. To that, I answer, “So what?” Why is it important to try to make anyone else happy (as if it were even possible)?
Your job is to make you happy. Their job is to make them happy.
Mindfully, thoughtfully, intentionally choose what you allow into your bubble and let everything else float away.
Use Your Gifts to Increase Your Happiness
Our lives are short. We all have unique gifts to share with the world.
What are your gifts? How can you share them in big or small ways every day for the rest of your life?
There’s tons of scientific evidence that supports the concept that illnesses, usually chronic ones, develop and persist when you bury and deny your gifts for too long.
If you have no idea what your gifts are, mindfully notice what brings you joy, what gets you excited and find ways to do those things more often. Find ways to infuse what you’re already doing with things you enjoy.
As you go through your day, notice the little choices you make all day, every day. Are your choices based on your happiness, the happiness of others or both?
Challenge yourself to make more choices that increase the happiness of both you and others. Always doing things for others is well-intentioned but, without taking time for yourself, can lead to resentment and exhaustion.
If you’re wallowing in negative emotions, notice that and find ways to change your thoughts instead of smothering them with food, alcohol, work, drugs, shopping or other counter-productive habits. Thinking about how to help others can be very powerful.
The more you bury those negative emotions, the bigger they return and the more self-destructive the compensating habits become. Get professional help if you need to.
A Daily Practice
Throughout your day, check in. Ask yourself how happy you are on a scale of 1 (not happy) to 5 (very happy). Ask yourself what you could do to move up one number. Then do that thing. Not later, not tomorrow – in the moment you think of it.
Here are some ideas:
- Smile for 30 seconds
- Take 10 deep breaths
- Buy or pick yourself a flower
- Give someone a flower
- Listen to some inspiring music
- Give a stranger a heartfelt compliment
- Hug someone and mean it
- Paint, draw, write, sing – express yourself
- Write in your journal
- Call, email or text a friend to let them know you’re thinking about them
- Eat something small and decadent and savor every moment of it
- Excuse yourself from a negative or gossipy conversation
- Breathe deeply while you think of three things you’re grateful for
- Take a walk, move your body
- Take a nap
- Smile at the next three people you see
- Decide to be happier
Set a timer on your watch, phone or computer or leave yourself notes where you’ll find them often to remind you to check in.
The more often you do this, the more it will become a habit. Eventually, you won’t need the reminders. Your subconscious will make the happy/not happy choice for you and guide your actions.
Your level of happiness is completely up to you. You can choose to see everything as “not enough” and decide that you can’t be happy. Or you can choose to see everything as “perfect as it is” and decide that you can be happy, no matter what.
What are you choosing now?
On the 50th anniversary of my time here on earth, I've released my first book: The Joy of Now Journal: Mindfulness In Five Minutes a Day. It's a beautiful, full-color guided journal that you can use to better appreciate the beauty of the present moment and “live in the now.”
With insightful questions, inspiring quotations, and thoughtful meditations, this journal is a guide to mindfulness for anyone who spends too much time thinking about the past and/or worrying about the future.
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