We sometimes chat with a friend who we haven’t spoken to in a while and have the notion that time flies incredibly fast. And then our elders tell us that it only passes faster as we age. At close to 40, I can feel that already as well. So much still to explore, so many things I have experienced and am experiencing every day, and while I am being very present with my process, the days still seem to just tick-tock by.
So as we progress through time, it may happen that we see a couple of red flags popping up. One of them is ruminating a lot over things that should not be allowed to steal our joy – nothing really ever is allowed to do that, which doesn’t mean that we can’t experience grief, sadness, or disappointment, but then move through it.
Another one is not sleeping well – when we toss and turn, can we get curious what’s really going on? Is it a self-care wake-up call, to look into our nutrition, daily schedule, or mental and emotional health?
The third one is depression, prolonged anxiety, or simply a general numbness – where the latter may be a coping mechanism stemming from one of the earlier ones. When things get too much, we may be tempted to cope with avoidance. Now, don’t get me wrong, we get to indulge in a good movie or book, no question, but for the enjoyment of it, not for numbing out. Can we manage our minds such that we get primed to joy?
I have spent so much time in my head this summer and fall it’s not even funny! Actually, it kind of is, because I am the one person I can’t get away from in this lifetime 😉
So I better make friends and wholeheartedly love myself instead of letting doubt and rumination get the better of me. And how do I do that? By cultivating joy and gratitude, by realizing the deep love seated in me, the never-ending well of love that is independent of outer circumstances. When I am not in a good place, it may take a piece of writing by a good teacher to remind me of this truth, but deep in my heart, when I connect to my soul instead of getting caught up in the stories my mind makes up, I know that to be true. I feel that I can access it at any time, by deciding to tune into that heart space and feel the love well up in me and deliberately cultivating it to grow.
I recently interviewed Colette Streicher, who told me about her all-day every-day gratitude practice – and when you see her talk, you believe that’s how she lives her life. She told me when she wakes up in Texas she is grateful for the air-conditioning, when she gets in the shower in the morning she says ‘thank you for the water’, when she walks to the office she is grateful for the trees and the birds, and as she goes by her day she deliberately thanks everything and everyone that contributes to it. It takes practice to do that, and research has shown that this practice makes us happier and more satisfied in life.
To get into that practice, we need the headspace to remember it, and when that is not in place yet, we can set reminders for ourselves to do it. Brendon Burchard sets such triggers for example as he walks through a doorway, consciously choosing his attitude and intention as he walks in to meet people or take care of whatever he came for.
The bottom line is that we want to make sure we notice red flags for exhaustion as they come up – general low energy and rumination, low-quality sleep, and prolonged anxiety/depression/numbness. And then let’s proactively act upon them, checking health, social connectedness, and connection to self as well as gratitude.
These three practices are going to benefit you: 1) connecting to that love deep inside doing a little love meditation, 2) practicing gratitude every single day and really feel it and 3) cultivate joy with whatever that looks like for you.
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Much love to you and have a beautiful week!