Sometimes, life gets a bit overwhelming and you just need to hit pause for a second and take that time to really shift your focus. In my last post I talked about how usually when I feel stressed, my perfection complex kicks and I try to combat the stress by making everything perfect, which does nothing but actually make things worse. As a way to mindfully resolve that, I took the past week to pause and get back into my meditation practice and gratitude journaling.
The meditation practice is still a bit hit or miss, but I took at least 5 minutes on several days this past week, so I think this will be a practice that I will slowly build up over time. The gratitude journaling has really stuck though. And I am amazed at how much of a difference that makes. I’m finding that I write in my gratitude journal every morning and evening, but that gratitude mindset has started to carry over into things during the day.
For example, we had a couple of really chilly nights last week, and I’m really not a fan of the cold. Usually I’m whining about being cold, but I found that this time, the very first thought that popped into my head was “I’m so glad we have a fireplace that makes the house cozy when it’s so cold.” Instead of being cranky about the cold, I was happy about the fire and it kept my mood in a good place for the rest of the evening.
I can’t help but think how much better my outlook on life would be if I took more of those icky/complaining thoughts and focused on what made me happy instead. I think, really, that’s the whole point of focusing on gratitude. A grateful heart has the power to transform the way you see the world.
Now that I feel like I have a good grip on gratitude, or at least enough to continue in the practice, I’m ready to move on in “my year”. Last Thursday marked the start of Week 7. For weeks 7 and 8 I will focus on the five senses.
I have been blessed with a healthy life and the ability to use all of my senses without having to put too much, if any, thought into it. I take advantage of what I can see, smell, taste, hear and feel. I think that a lot of hidden day-to-day joy can be found by taking a minute to slow down and really pay attention to these senses – yummy food, beautiful scenes of Wichita, the smell of a fireplace, amazing music, a hug from a loved one.
I think a lot of the time, I look for joy in the big things. Something showy and extravagant that screams “This is SO GREAT!” But sometimes, happiness doesn’t always show up that way. And sometimes, when life is hard, it gets harder to find happiness. When it feels like nothing will go right and only bad things are happening and you just can’t win, it can be hard to find those little joys. But if I can work to find those joys now, when I’m in a good place, I hope that it will become second nature. That way, when life does get me down, my default mode is to find the good. Mindfulness is like a muscle – you have to work at it and slowly build it up, so that way it’s strong when you need it the most.
As an added bonus for weeks 7 and 8, I’ve been taking pictures. At least 1 picture every day (let’s be real, usually I take more than one) of something that is bringing joy to my senses. Then on Thursday at the end of week 7 I will post my pictures from the week. I’ll do the same thing for week 8 as well. This has actually been a fun way to physically stop myself in the moment of joy and take notice. And I’ve taken some beautiful pictures in the process. I can’t wait to share with you!
Here’s a sneak preview: The sunrise yesterday morning was GORGEOUS!! It was so distractingly beautiful, it almost made driving to work dangerous.