I'm keeping this easy with just six simple steps!!
1. Say no.
I know, I know. People need you. People want you. I also know that too much of anything is, well, too much. Take a look at your calendar for the next month. If it is filled with things you aren't overly excited to do, you may be a victim of the automatic yes. From now on, when an opportunity presents itself, take a minute to check in with yourself before you commit. If you hear nothing but excitement and a deep yes when you think about it, by all means say an enthusiastic yes and put it on your calendar. If, however, you feel like you should go or you feel like you have to go, consider saying no graciously and spend that time in a way that feels right to you.
2. Say yes.
Here I go contradicting myself already. Hear me out, though. How often do you tell yourself you'll pursue something in the future? How often do you tell yourself you don't have time to do what you want to do? I'm giving you permission right now. If you want to write, sing, dance, paint, knit or try something new, there is no better time than now. Life is about living so make sure to fit in some of what brings you joy. It's in those moments of bliss that we relax enough to gain some clarity on what else we want in our life. And that is worth saying yes to.
If you've ever had a really good laugh (and who hasn't!), you know there is nothing like it. Laughter gives you an immediate vacation from the realities of day to day life. It gives you perspective on things. It even gives you health benefits. Laughter has been shown to strengthen immunity, lower stress, boost your energy and diminish pain. So, get out those old DVDs of Seinfeld or get on YouTube and search for "laughing baby". You'll be glad you did.
When I do values work with clients, almost all of them say connection with others is toward the top of their list. When we connect with others, we feel seen and heard. Life feels more worthwhile, more meaningful. We've all had those deep, soul searching conversations with another human being. You walk away feeling a deep satisfaction. But, the good news is that it doesn't take a conversation like that to connect. Smile at the person making your coffee. Make eye contact with the bank teller. Enjoy a daily hug with the people you live with. Sharing experiences with other people is a surefire way to bring depth and meaning into your life.
5. Give back.
It's amazing to me how much there is to be gained by giving away your time. It seems almost contradictory in that you are the one taking time out of your busy life to help others. But anyone who has ever volunteered knows that you almost always get more out of the experience than you give. It could be a one day event or an ongoing commitment. It might be something you can do from home or a volunteer vacation. The key is to find an opportunity that is a fit for you. Helping others gives us a sense of purpose and contribution. It's also another way to connect with others. And that seems like a win, win, win!
Our culture seems to frown upon idle time and as a result, we all feel compelled to answer every email, quickly grab each ringing phone and keep up with which contestant is being eliminated on reality TV. In this technology-rich, fast-paced world, it's easy to forget to turn it all off from time to time. But, it's also crucial. Our minds are not meant to have a constant barrage of sensory information thrown at them. Just as the sun sets and the sea ebbs, our brains need a chance to rest and rejuvenate so they can function at their highest level when we need them to. So, turn off the TV, leave the laptop on your desk and spend a few minutes each day doing nothing. Focus on your breath. Or not. If you find it hard to take a few minutes, go ahead and add "do nothing" to your to do list. It's well worth it.