With our hectic lives and severely over-packed schedules, we often find ourselves lost somewhere along the way. We work so hard to live passionately and abundantly, yet that same work so often becomes nothing more than a time crunch that creates scarcity and a lack of zest for life. Luckily for us, we don't have to stop working entirely to reclaim our excitement for what is around us. We only have to take a little time to slow down and, as they say, smell the roses.
Starting with the smallest and ending with the most profound, here are 10 tips that will help you in your quest to bring back that sense of wonder and joy you had when you were a kid. We're going to start with – what else? – something you can do each morning.
1. Make your own morning coffee (or tea!)
Don't let the instant mix make it for you. And especially don't let anyone else (including Starbucks) do it for you. If you do, you are missing out on a vital chance to not only shake off some of that sleepiness, but also to quiet your mind and appreciate a process that sustains you.
Sure, there's a lot of work to be done, so you could just grab that $5 latte and be on your merry way. Or you could wake up 15 minutes earlier and start your day off with wonderful aromas and a sense of accomplishment.
Why not start your day with joy? You might even miss the morning rush.
2. Have lunch with a friend
If your version of lunch includes typing away at a keyboard while taking time-efficient bites out of a McDonald's hamburger between keystrokes, then brace yourself: this one is going to be tough.
I'm talking about actually getting off the computer for at least 30 minutes at a time – or maybe even an hour – and spending that time eating and socializing with someone you like. You'll find that your mind will naturally start to slow down and you'll begin to enjoy yourself. And as an added bonus, you'll have renewed creativity and, of course, productivity.
Speaking of restaurants, check out this next tip:
3. Eat at a new restaurant
One of my favorite things to do is combing purposes for things I enjoy. For example, I like eating, and I like new things. I find that they both allow me to slow down and appreciate what is around me. So why not combine them?
Not only could you find your new favorite place to grab a bite to eat, but the new setting will cause you to take in more of your surroundings, resulting in increased attention to detail and overall well-being. You could even combine the last tip and eat at a new restaurant with a friend. How's that for time management?
But enough of being so social. Part of enjoying the mystery of life is turning inward and taking a look around the ol' attic upstairs. And don't mind if you find any cobwebs – we will clean those right up.
4. Take a walk by yourself
If this doesn't make you feel good, I don't know what will. I find a lonesome walk through the park to be a necessity at times. The key to this tip is knowing when to use it. You know that moment when you're feeling so stressed out that your head is about ready to burst and you can't find a minute to take a drink of water, let alone a leisurely stroll?
Well, that's exactly when you need to take a walk. Under no circumstances should life ever become crazy enough that you lose that precious inner sense of joy. The moment you forget about that, you've already lost perspective. Anything you do from then on will be much more prone to error and failure. Work from positivity, not negativity.
Oh, and about your walk – be sure to turn off your cell phone. I know, I know – just do it.
5. Use your imagination
First, a question: when is the last time you used your imagination? And I'm not talking about using it for work, either. When did you last imagine something for fun? Just for the heck of it.
There's a reason why kids are able to have fun in any situation. I'm sure you've seen it, and even experienced it. You're walking through the supermarket, racking your brain to come up with the most efficient route to get what you need and out of the store in record time (it's OK – I do it too), and then you see some snot-nosed little brat having the time of his life pretending an ordinary banana is a spaceship. A spaceship!
Depending on your disposition (and how loud he is), you may smile or grimace, but I can guarantee that you aren't having as much fun as him. How is it that we are born knowing how to enjoy life, and yet after learning all of the wonderful things we adults learn, we somehow forget how to have fun? It's almost like we get dumber as we get older.
The solution? Counteract the aging process with the full power of your imagination. You don't have to pretend bananas are spaceships – although that would be fun – but try to imagine something that makes you laugh at least once every single day.
6. Get lost in a good book
One of the first things we dump in our quest for world domination a corporate lifestyle is good old-fashioned reading. One of the best ways, if not THE best way, to break ourselves of our stressful habits is to immerse ourselves in a fantasy world.
Here are some guidelines for finding the right book for you. It:
- Must be unrelated to work
- Must be fiction
- Must be "just for fun"
- Must be read with absolutely no multitasking allowed
7. Get rid of one thing a day
This may not make much sense of first, but it will soon enough. The truth is, we have so much clutter surrounding us at any given moment (at the office, in our cars, in our homes) and we've become so accustomed to it that we no longer notice how it affects us. If you start cleaning up some of that external clutter, a lot of internal clutter will go away immediately.
However, chances are you don't have a lot of extra time to spend cleaning up junk. And spring cleaning is what, like two seasons away? The solution: choose one (or two, or three) items each and every day and get rid of them. You will be surprised at how much you've accumulated over the years.
It will be difficult at first, so expect some resistance. But after some time you will begin to learn to let go of your packrat tendencies, and your mind will thank you for your efforts.
8. Create something
Remember when I mentioned that we were going from small stuff to big stuff? Well, we're finally getting into the really big stuff now. These are the paradigm shifts and habits changes that will completely change your life. So pay attention.
Creation is a process like none other. Putting to use your innovative faculties and constructing something with your mind that will eventually become a reality leaves one with an indescribable sense of wholeness.
There really is no substitute for it. The only caveat is that it must be related to something you actually care about. If you are creating financial plans for clients all day and you hate it, then that's not going to work. But if you can find something you love then that will make all the difference.
If you haven't created something in a while just for the sake of creating, try it. You will be surprised.
9. Express gratitude
As important as creation is, gratitude is perhaps even more so. Gratitude encompasses anything from a simple thank you to an all-encompassing way of life. For meaningful personal change, we want the latter.
To walk in gratitude is to appreciate all that is around you. It's the kind of attitude that will take your current reality and supercharge it with beauty, love, and joy. Once you adopt this outlook, your life will change. Even if your external circumstances don't shift much, your experience will be forever altered.
But that's only #9. So what could be more important than living with gratitude?
10. Meditate each day
I saved this for last because it is at once the simplest of the ten, and yet also the most potentially life-changing. All it takes is 10 minutes a day to completely revolutionize the way you see the world. And yet so many people don't take the time to meditate. One of the reasons is that it can be so easy to skip doing it. In fact, when we get busy, it's often the first thing to go.
It's akin to the government cutting NASA programs and the like before anything else when it needs funding. Sure, it makes sense on a small level. After all, cutting our space exploration budget isn't going to affect us much right now. But what about in 50 years? In 100? In 1000? How many discoveries and insights might we miss out on because we wanted to fund more practical things?
It's exactly the same situation when you choose to spend those extra 10 or 20 minutes working instead of meditating. Sure, you can put meditation off in favor of getting a few more down-to-earth things done right now, but what are you missing? What kind of life-altering insights and exciting metaphysical experiences are you sacrificing? And how much joy are you giving up?
Clearly, you should meditate. It's quick and easy, and it makes you feel great. Plus, it's even backed by science!