Our lives are run by the movement of the clock, our days filled with routine.
While there’s comfort in familiarity, we may begin to feel a bit restless as one day flows into another just like it.
Lately, I’ve felt like my heart has been this heavy thing that I have to carry around. It hasn’t been just one thing that has made the days difficult or caused my emotions to feel heightened. It’s just been one thing after another, the dominoes of my life falling against each other and knocking me down. I think we all experience times like that, where the weight of living and having all of these emotions seems difficult to bear. But bear it we must.
And it’s important that we do more than just survive our lives and our difficult days. We need to dig deep and build lives filled with more joy and gratitude than challenge and struggle. It becomes an essential part of our mindfulness practice to figure out a way to ground ourselves, to find our balance and bring ourselves some measure of inner peace.
Because I can tell you this: no one else is going to bring us peace. No one is going to hand us self-love or happiness or some measure of contentedness. All of that comes from ourselves. And I know how hard that is to summon on a difficult day when our hearts just feel so heavy, and all we want to do is lay down and pull the covers over our heads to block out the relentless demands in our lives.
Trust me: I know.
But we have to do this work because the world depends on us to do it. We’re essential to so many people, and we have dreams that need to be followed. We can’t follow them lying in bed with the covers over our eyes.
So how do we begin to break away from the routine of it all and create lives filled with joy?
1. Open up our senses to the small things: the trill of a bird in a tree, the contrast of white clouds against a strikingly blue sky, the sun hot on our skin, the smell of coffee in the morning. We can find joy by noticing the small sensations around us.
2. Create our own sense of adventure. Plan an impromptu day trip. We can go to a nearby town or sight-see in our own. We can host a scavenger hunt or even spend an afternoon geocaching. Host an impromptu water balloon or pillow fight at a park with friends. Whatever we choose, we can have small adventures even if our budget doesn’t allow for a big one.
3. Make time to laugh. I have a parenting goal of making my children laugh at least once a day. In truth, they laugh a good bit of the day because they’re little and have such a good time playing together, but I make it my mission as their mother to draw out their laughter whenever I can. By setting the goal of once a day, I remind myself that their happiness is the most important thing to me, and it always reminds me to laugh as well. Who can resist a baby laughing?
4. Create a gratitude practice. In my home, we take time every day to list the people and things that we’re grateful for each day. My daughter often includes fictional characters, her toys and every person she’s ever met in the list. But it teaches my children to be grateful, and it’s a reminder to me to live in gratitude as their voices list things that I often take for granted like colors or a simple treat.
5. Find a way of indulging the inner child. Whatever we once enjoyed as a child can still be enjoyed now. If we enjoyed coloring, there is a plethora of coloring books for adults on the market that we can use to de-stress. There are even novelty ones that allow us to color curse words. We can still fly kites, spend time outdoors, create something with clay or build with blocks. We can rent a bike and go for a ride. We can indulge the joy that’s always been inside of us. It’s important not to forget this aspect of ourselves in our daily lives of working and paying bills and general adulting.
These are a few ideas that I’ve been able to work into my life to create a sense of joy and adventure when I get bogged down by working, paying bills and doing endless amounts of laundry.
When my heart feels too heavy to keep going, I think outside of the box for ways to remind myself of what’s important and to allow the joy back in.
It’s so much easier to feel happy when we’re feeling thankful for the people and things that make up our lives. We can celebrate the simple pleasures in the every day and remind ourselves of all of the good in the world. It takes effort and sometimes requires vision, but our lives can be intensely happy when we choose to look beyond the challenges.
Our mindful, joyful lives become stepping stones on a path to reaching everything we’ve ever wanted if only we can keep drawing on our reserves of gratitude for this moment, and for this beautiful life that we’re living.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Editor: Catherine Monkman