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June 3, 2016

Filling a Mindful Life with Joy.

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When we think of a mindful life, images of meditation and yoga may come to mind. Perhaps the image brings up a solemn feeling or the image of a life lived in calm contentment. However, I would assert that the mindful life can be one filled with childlike delight and immense joy.

As summer vacation approaches, I’ve been thinking about ways to infuse my family’s life with a sense of childlike abandon. How do we make our mindful living one that contains a sense of fun and at the same time builds on the relationships in our lives?

I began thinking of events that could be planned with others—actual IRL interactions—to bring out a sense of adventure and excitement into our summer plans. By bringing our interactions out of the virtual world of social media, we can enhance our relationships while infusing our time with good old-fashioned fun. Here are a few ways we can make our mindful life one filled with joy during the summer months:

Planned Team/Family Events

We can create an event and invite other families to meet us at a local park or at our homes for a team event. We could meet for a water gun fight, organize a water balloon standoff, or even arm ourselves with Nerf guns for an exciting meet up of joyful “warfare.” We don’t have to have a winner or loser (unless we’d like to have a prize or trophy as a matter of pride to pass on at each round).

I got this idea some time ago from Atlanta’s celebration of the International Pillow Fight where the community was invited to arrive at a park with pillows and participate in an epic pillow fight. I had such a good time when I participated, and it made me think that we could do this in so many different ways—with water balloons, Nerf guns or water guns. The point is the get-together and the childlike joy. We can embrace the celebratory nature for no reason other than the fact that it’s summer time, and we just want to enjoy our time.

Board Game Nights

We can take the opportunity to plan a night of board games. This is another way that we can enjoy the mindful life, by meeting with each other and truly enjoying the spontaneity and delight that is participating in a game with others. Card games are also a way to regain that sense of community and fun.

It’s a challenge to be anything but mindful when participating in a game! There are so many game options available that are fun rather than purely competitive. I personally favor Cranium, Taboo and other interactive games that allow for creative expression.

Scavenger Hunts

Scavenger hunts are another fun yet mindful activity that we can do with others. When I worked as a docent for some local historic homes, a visitor said that she had put a spin on a scavenger hunt and would go on a road trip to a town and take a picture or two. She would post it online for her friends to see if they could guess where she’d gone to visit. In this way, it became a hunt to find clues in the pictures and was an interesting way to bring her family and friends along on her adventures.

Scavenger hunts can also be done the old-fashioned way with a list, a theme and a time limit. These hunts can be fun, and both adults and children are capable of enjoying them. Photographs can be taken on digital cameras to capture each item on the list or items can be collected and brought back. What I love about scavenger hunts is the search and then the show-and-tell nature of the game’s end.

Geocaching

I was recently reminded of my love for geocaching. This is a great mindful activity that’s perfect for summer fun. There are even apps now to help with finding each cache. Just remember: cache in, trash out. By taking the time to pick up litter we see as we’re searching for each hidden treasure, we can do our part to take care of our earth and our communities while enjoying the hunt for a secret hiding place. This is a wonderful activity for groups also, and it’s always interesting to see what’s hidden inside each cache.

As we live our lives in mindful awareness, we can find ways of incorporating childhood joy into the routine that makes up our existence. By taking the time to plan a fun outing or event with our friends and family, we can remind ourselves of the importance of fun and laughter in our lives. While they may not seem like needs, they are certainly necessary parts of living lives filled with joy.

Summer is so often filled with activity and events and family vacations. Too often, we can become overwhelmed with all of the things we have to do. Choosing to rediscover our joy is an excellent way to bring our focus back into the present and to help us relax into the delight of good old-fashioned fun.

 

 

 

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Author: Crystal Jackson

Image: Flickr/Jason Ippolito

Editor: Travis May

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