June 23, 2013
Contentment, not “happiness”: Ecstatic happiness is not a viable option 24 hours a day! Contentment, however, can be practiced even in the midst of challenging moments in our lives. These are the 5 key habits that I have been practicing over the last several years that have helped me develop more calm, equilibrium, and peace in my everyday life.
It began as a way to help our daughter have more stability and peace, but the simplification bug has spread to all of us for good reason. Yes, it started with getting rid of stuff – we now have a constant flow to Goodwill – and as we got rid of the stuff, we began to have more space and time. Life got easier. The less we have to take care of, the more we can enjoy and appreciate what we do have. We also simplified daily routines and our digital lives – introducing “Screen-Free Sunday” every week. After a while, my mindset began to change from new stuff will make me happy, to new stuff = time and maintenance. Simplifying means we have lost many unnecessary complications and gained more time, more peace, and more ease in daily life.
2. Self Care
Many people don’t realize that without self-care, you cannot give your fullest potential to your family, your job, or the things you care about. Self-care must be a priority if we are going to thrive through stressful times that will surely come. My daily yoga practice (which is sometimes quite short) makes me feel better in mind, body and spirit. Other ways I care for myself include: getting into the woods, green smoothies, running a few times a week, and a glass of wine with dinner. How do you practice self-care?
3. Self Compassion
Listen to that voice in your head: Is it harder on you than anyone else is? Are your thoughts filled with self blame, shame and judgement? That was me for too long in my life. The habit of stillness has helped me find the space to see those thoughts and counter them. When we realize that we are not our thoughts we can let them go. We’re all human – it’s okay to have anger, to make mistakes, etc., but berating ourselves is a waste of time. Yoga teaches us to practice ahimsa, or non-harming with ourselves first.
When the frenzy of our lives drives us, we are less creative and our minds cannot make good decisions. Stillness allows us thespace in which to open our minds to change so that we can grow and learn. My morning meditation has provided me with more emotional stability and mental clarity than any other practice. The benefits of meditation have been proven by science, and unlike other anti-depressants, have zero negative side affects. Curious? Try this one-minute meditation, and feel free to ask me about more resources!
Another way to practice stillness is to simply take a moment to breathe in a stressful situation. This practice allows us to return to center – to respond rather than react.
This is probably the most important habit for contentment. And there are many ways to practice gratitude! In my family, we ask each other what we are grateful for each night at dinner, and we often talk about it again just before bed. I have also returned to the practice of keeping a little gratitude journal at my bedside in which I write down 5 things I’m grateful for each night.
Other ways of practicing gratitude include:
~Giving at least one compliment every day
~Looking for ways to learn from challenging situations
~Say “thank you” more often
Thank you so much for reading. I love feedback – questions and ideas are welcome! If you liked this, please pass it on and encourage friends to sign up for my mailing list. It’s through your support that my business grows. And remember, you don’t need to wait another moment to begin to create habits that can change your life.