Am I alone in feeling consistently confronted with the message I should be living differently?
Social Media, advertising, books, online articles seem to suggest that happiness and enjoyment is tied up in escaping a dull, grey, habitual, boring reality and finding excitement and our dream life through external experiences, travel, wealth, youth and fun.
Alternatively we are fed messages like ‘live your best life’ or ‘the little things are the big things’ and similar quotes, which most of us would agree with but they offer little comfort as we fight our grumpy toddler into their shoes or car seat, battle through mountains of housework or emails after a long day working or spend an hour in traffic on the commute. Our current life doesn’t feel like a book of inspirational sayings and there seems little we can do to change this.
I am a mum. I juggle work, school and family. I have a lot to fit into a day. So does everyone else. Everyone is busy. We live in a society that values busyness and productivity as signs of success. We juggle many roles over a day parent, child, employee, employer, friend, sibling, neighbour and expect ourselves to meet the needs of others wholly and often at personal cost to our own health and well being. Days and weeks often fly by in a blur of months and years with little memorable or remarkable to show.
Is there another way? How do we find something more, an elusive sense of something bigger?
I work as an Integrative Life Coach and Wellness Therapist. My clients come to me with full lives but feeling empty. They have everything and yet something is missing, a space inside despite the crowdedness of their life. Through talking we often discover Its not about stuff, its about finding a feeling of enough. How do I help them find this?
This isn’t something we find by action, its something we find by stopping. Slowing down and pausing brings us into the now and allows us to see the magic that surrounds us in everything. We find meaning in the ordinary.
How do I do that? Where am I going to find the time? How do I even remember to do it?
We start by deciding this is how we want to live, we decide what we want to be meaningful. Knowing our values is a good way to explore this. So many of the things we do are done routinely or on auto pilot but perhaps we would do them differently if we thought this would be the last time- changing a nappy, driving to work, answering a text from someone we love. All of these things have expiry dates and we will one day look back on them as special. Why cant we make them precious while we do them?
Usually because we are busy and in the rush we forget. We are getting through a long list of things to do and it doesn’t cross our mind to reflect on their importance. A few ideas that help my clients remember include:
- Have set times– choose a time when you regularly do the same thing eg brush your teeth or boil the kettle and use this time to think about how grateful you are to be able to do simple things or notice beauty in your environment- the plants in the garden or the fruit bowl on the table.
- Set alarms on your phone for different times throughout the day to pull you out of your thoughts and focus on something or someone you care about and how they matter to you.
- Place notes or post its around your house or car with messages that help you remember something that makes you smile. Change them regularly so you continue to notice them.
- Use commuting time to really listen to your kids conversation, music you love or an audio book/podcast you love.
- Talk to others about how they experience life and what they do differently from you. Notice the beauty in variety within this.
As we slow down within our busy lives, we find time to notice the details around us. The beauty of our life is in the details and its what makes it uniquely our own.
So I find in doing this I’m living the same life but differently… I find extraordinary in my ordinary and I’m happy with my life, its mine.