Ever have that moment in life when you stop and think, “Things aren’t all that bad?” It happens in an instant. A flash of peace and contentment pierces through you. Unfortunately, many of us don’t have these moments as often as we’d like and when they do occur, they pass quicker than they arose
I had one of these moments this morning and it got me thinking how I could get more of them. I went for a run down to Lake Michigan and though it was particularly cold and gloomy for a Spring morning, I could see the sun slowly trying to peak through the clouds. For some reason, I instantly compared it to happiness trying to peak its way through a string of negative thoughts. The past 24 hours have been filled with anxious, somewhat lonesome thoughts for reasons I won’t bore you with now. If there was ever a time I needed to find that perfect moment, now was it.
On my way back home, I walked past a pond. It’s nestled back in some woods and is particularly peaceful. I felt compelled to just stand there and observe. As I stood there looking out on the water, the most beautiful bird touched down just a few feet next to me. Then, a second one accompanied him (or her I suppose). I watched as they peacefully rested there looking out onto the water and the Chicago skyline.
To make this moment even better, a song came onto my Pandora that I had never heard. It was called “Let her go” by the British band, Passenger. If I could have written a song myself to express how I felt in that moment, I’m pretty sure that would be it. It was the perfect touch to a perfect moment. (I highly recommend taking a listen)
This moment was simple. It wasn’t particularly exciting. But it brought calm and clarity to my life. I can’t help but wonder how much more at peace I would be overall if I could accumulate more of these moments. I don’t think these moments can be planned out. I think they find you when you aren’t even looking for them. The only thing we can do is be open to them and ready to invite them in when they find us.
Well in case anyone was wondering, I successfully accomplished my goal of not watching television for five days. It felt amazing. I eventually got to the point where I was so used to not having the chatter on in the background, that I did not even miss it. I enjoyed it so much that I have begun watching less and less television ever since. (I can proudly say I did not watch the two hour Bachelor episode that aired last night). Since I enjoyed my decision of keeping the television turned off, I got to wondering what other choices I could make that could positively influence not only my day, but my life in general. The following are three things I thought up (while not watching television mind you) that require very little effort but could definitely create positive results.
1.) Switching up the morning routine
The first thing many of us do after rolling out of bed (or perhaps even before getting out of bed if you keep electronics within an arms reach) is switch on our computers to check e-mail, turn on the television to get caught up on the morning’s depressing news, or check our cell phones for any social media updates (who doesn’t love waking up to a facebook friend request)? So many of us are guilty of these daily habits that it is difficult to see how detrimental they can be to the rest of our day. The coffee has not even begun to brew yet and we are already overstimulated! The effects of this media overload are often subtle, making it difficult to even be aware of it. This chaotic routine though can create an element of anxiety that will linger into your daily commute, that big business meeting and the rest of the day’s activities. Instead of switching on the computer and television first thing in the morning, turn on music that will set the tone for the rest of your day. Nothing says a happy, anxiety-free day like a little Bob Marley in the morning. It sounds simple, but it is amazing how the effects last throughout most of the day. Save the e-mail checking and facebook stalking for when you feel mentally relaxed and ready.
2.) Doing one thing for another
Again, this one seems simple and a bit of a no brainer. It is common knowledge that doing something for another will bring us happiness, but can you remember the last time you gave of yourself? It is so easy to get caught up in the daily hassles of work, bills, and numerous other responsibilities, that giving to someone else are easily overlooked. Whether it is volunteering for an hour a week or over tipping the morning barista at Starbucks, the smallest of gestures will be as rewarding to you as it is to the one on the receiving end. Be conscientious throughout the day of opportunities where you could lend your time or resources to improve the day of another. The irony is that your day will be equally improved.
3.) Try one thing outside of your comfort zone
Trying something out of the ordinary can help to broaden your horizons and expand your worldview. I’m not necessarily suggesting taking up sky diving or anything too extreme, but sometimes even the smallest of activities that stir up feelings of minor discomfort, can leave you with a renewed sense of self and awareness. For example, I recently attended a meditation class. Sitting Indian style with a bunch of strangers attempting to quiet my brain was certainly an unusual experience, but it was accompanied with a sense of accomplishment for trying something different. Trying new things can make you feel like a more rounded person and instill confidence. Whether it be taking up baking or training for a 5k, the feeling that you have mastered something new will not only make you more interesting but also happier overall. And isn’t that the ultimate accomplishment?