You wake up in the morning, get your cup of coffee or juice, and then what is going through your mind as you get ready for your day? Is your mind a big mess of cluttered thoughts or is it focused on the experience of the warm coffee hitting your lips and the aroma of it filling the room? I think that far too often we are treating the important things in life, which are the small things, in such a way that we aren’t even paying attention to them anymore. Here are four tips I’ve come up with to be more mindful during your day and to truly appreciate all of those small things we seem to so often take for granted:
1. Really open your eyes All of us are guilty of this one: you’re walking from your car to your office or work site and you don’t even see the budding leafs on the pathway, or the rays of sunlight coming through the clouds above you. Instead of having a cluttered mind on the way to work, ignore all of that and draw all of your attention to your surroundings and just using your senses to really see everything around you. Try to do this as much as you can every day and you’ll notice that the number of frustrating days you have starts to dwindle and the things that used to get to you simply no longer matter to you. Once you start gaining appreciation for the little things in life, you realize that those are the big things. Do this with those you love as well. Instead of sitting with your friend and just talking to them, notice all of the little things you love about them. Notice things like the way their eyes light up when they talk about certain things, or the way that their smile looks kind of dorky when you tell them a joke. These are the things in life that matter.
2. Never go to bed feeling negative Rest should be just that: rest. It is not a time to fall asleep thinking about bad things, it is a time to end one day and be lucky enough to start the next one fresh and full of new opportunities. Think of all of the people who aren’t lucky enough to see the day you’re about to see tomorrow. So, if you’re feeling down in the dumps or if you’re sad, make sure you resolve those things to the best of your ability before going to sleep. Tips for doing this: first really think about the thing you’re thinking about. Does it honestly warrant you having negative emotions, or are you just caught up in it for other reasons? If it helps you, write out what you’re thinking to help organize your thoughts. Once you’ve done that, write down three ways that you will improve the situation tomorrow. These need to be three steps you can actually take, no matter how small they might be. What’s better? Taking action or just thinking about the things that bother you? Clearly taking action is the right thing to do. Calling someone you love is also helpful because they can help you to see things from a different perspective. No matter what you do, never take the new day for granted. Always make sure you’ll be ready in the morning to give it your all.
3. Be Thankful I think the number one thief of peace is when people spend more time thinking about what they want or don’t have instead of thinking about what they do have. Sure you might not have everything you want, but that’s okay. Take time every day to realize how lucky you are to have things that you do have, and make sure that you show others that you appreciate who they are and also take time to take good care of yourself.
4. Let go of Perfect. There’s a quote that says something like “expectation is the thief of all joy”. This is very true. If you’re expecting yourself and those around you to be perfect, you are only stealing something beautiful from yourself. Once you learn to embrace and love imperfections, you realize that they are really just ‘perfect’ little parts of life. That funny hair day you have, the way your friend always spills food on her white shirts, or the date that was supposed to be in the sunny grass but instead turned into a race through a torrential downpour. Those are all just things you will look back on and smile about. So let go of expectations and just live one moment at a time.