Since I’ve decided to spend February celebrating and my word for this year is present, I’ve been thinking about ways to celebrate the present moment. I work at home and spend most of my day alone. I’ve noticed that it’s relatively easy for me to get into a funk at some point during the day. And if I don’t acknowledge it and do something about it, I can carry that funk all day and spread it to those around me.
I decided to work at home so I could be around more for my kids, so if I am going to be crabby, it sort of ruins the whole reason why I moved my life around to make this setup work. I am trying to be more aware of how my mood can spread and spill over to the way I interact with anyone. And the way I write emails. The way I make assumptions about the people I run into. The way I read/interpret emails. The way I talk to my kids and husband. I can go on and on but I think you get the point.
So I decided to take two kinds of actions that will allow me to be more present, celebrate this moment, and get out of my funks:
1. Notice the joyful moments and take a pause:
I get to have many moments in my day where something wonderful is happening. For example, every day, after his nap (or quiet time since naps seem to be disappearing) my son comes to snuggle next to me as he watches an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. He will hug me and let me kiss him and smell him as much as I want. I now make a point of taking a few minutes off work and really basking in the joy of smelling his neck and kissing and hugging him.
It doesn’t have to be a snuggly activity. I do the same thing with my older son and his homework. On most days, I get to help him with his homework. This often means playing a math game together or brainstorming ideas on what to write. Instead of trying to get-it-over-with, I now take an extra ten minutes and really enjoy getting to be here with him and teach my son while we play. This is something I care about and I am grateful to get to do it (instead of being at work when he comes home from school.)
It doesn’t even have to involve others. I have to go out daily to get the mail. This two second walk from my door to the mailbox reminds me that I live in sunny California and the weather is exquisite on most days. Instead of rushing in and out, I take a few extra seconds and soak in the sun. If there was snow, I could certainly soak in the snow, too!
The other day, I was exercising on the treadmill and I looked out the garage to see an incredible sky filled with orange and red as the sun was coming up. I stopped my movie and watched the sky, marveling in its beauty.
Most of these activities are really small moments. Ordinary life moments. All of these things are things that already naturally occur in my day. Things that really really give me joy but things that I know I overlook (or things that get overshadowed by other things that annoy me.) And this extra pause allows me to remember (and lock in) the joy of all the little, ordinary moments. To be really present. To feel it in my body, be conscious, and really be here to completely savor this very moment.
2. Make a list of small acts that give me joy and do 3-5 each day
I’ve been noticing that besides the things that naturally occur in my day, there are small things that I can do to really pickup my mood. For example, there are a few songs that almost always put me in a good mood. So if I am really feeling tired, funky, or crabby, I can just put the song on and there’s an 85% chance I will be in a better mood.
The sun is another mood-lifter. It’s proven scientifically that our brains like being outdoors. Seeing the sky and trees and wind and sun make us feel better. So I can definitely take a 5 minute walk around the block. Or even just open my door and look out for 2 minutes.
I can take a 20 minute break and sit down to eat a healthy food that I really enjoy (instead of rushing through it while I reply to email.) I can play with my kids for 6 minutes. I can hug my kids, my husband, or even myself. I can buy myself flowers. I can read a book I love for 15 minutes. I can draw. I can write a thank you note, gratitude note or just a catch-up email to a friend.
The goal here is to change modes. So I can add an activity to my day to jolt my brain from the funk it might be sinking into.
Most of these activities make me happy and they range anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes. I can definitely take 3-5 breaks throughout my day to incorporate them and see if they inject more joy into my day. At a minimum, they will refresh my mind/body/soul so I can work more efficiently when I am done.
So those are my two goals every day. Find five naturally-occurring joyful moments where I can pause and really soak and lock it in and create three-to-five small moments where I am doing something I know is likely to bring me joy. My task tonight is to make my joy-list for category two so I have a long list of ideas to pull from. Not too long since too much choice can be a bad thing but enough that I am not doing the same things every day.
There we go. Plan for celebrating the moment, being more present, and adding more joy into my days.