Six Ways to Love Your Life
#1. Meditate In some ways it’s much easier to say what meditation isn’t than what it is – it isn’t making mental lists in my mind, it isn’t planning my day, it isn’t rehearsing something that will happen, or do-ing over something that has happened in my mind.
It isn’t praying, though some folks might do that, and it isn’t ‘emptying the mind’ though some folks claim they try to do that. It isn’t focusing on the breath, or a mantra, or sitting up really straight and tall, or napping.
So what the heck is it? I think it’s a pretty personal thing, and personal each time, for each person. I know it when I’m doing it. One meditation teacher told me, “There’s no bad meditation.” Daniel Goleman said “The best meditation is the meditation you actually do.”
Here’s what I actually do: In the morning, before I get out of bed, I think about getting comfortable in the bed, lying flat on my back, with my arms and legs sort of out evenly. With my eyes closed, but awake, I lie there breathing in and out, focusing on the breath without controlling it or trying to make it be a certain way.
Sometimes I think about what color I’m seeing with my eyes closed. Sometimes I think about what I’m going to have for breakfast.
When I notice myself thinking rather than just floating feeling my body, feeling my breath, I return to the more feeling place than thinking place. I do the same thing at night, after lights out, before sleep.
Why do I do it in bed, why do I do it lying down when all the manuals say to sit up and get a fancy cushion or be cross-legged or whatever? Because lying down in bed is when I’ll actually do it. The cushion I bought years ago has seen my butt maybe four times. But bed sees me every day.
I co-sleep with our child and once I show any sign of consciousness in the morning it’s all about him and in the evening before bed is also all about him. And then the day is just the day. Maybe one day I’ll reserve time for meditating during the day but right now I can do morning, and sometimes night, in bed.
The best meditation is the mediation one does.
2. Give Lots of Compliments and Appreciations to Others
A friend of mine gave me this tip and I started using it and was instantly stunned by how it brightened people’s day. Compliment the check-out person’s hair, or her shirt. Compliment the security guard’s smile. Compliment your kid’s teacher’s shoelaces.
It doesn’t matter what the compliment is, just spread them around and enjoy how happy it makes people. You also never know what stories you will get from people or what you’ll learn about them.
That guy who never smiles? Compliment his sweater or jacket and see him light up. Needless to say, going heavier with more substantive appreciations and thank you’s with work colleagues, friends, and family is also a sure-fire way to make your life better.
- Exercise a little bit less or a little bit more
You know who you are – gym rat who gets upset if you miss a day or your class gets rescheduled or desk-bound by day/sofa-bound by night screen-aholic? If one or the other of those hits the mark, think about easing up a bit and figuring out what joyful activities that break from your norm might be worth checking out.
I’ve lived on both ends of that spectrum and when I was spending most of my free time trying to work out I discovered that I’d forgotten the joy of a cup of tea and a good book snuggled up on the sofa. When I adopted a more sedentary lifestyle I realized that phone chats with friends work just as well while walking around my neighborhood as they do sitting at a desk.
Mix it up, the human being loves a little novelty, a little texture in its free time.
- Press Pause
If something or someone has you in a state of unrest, unease, or confusion, press pause on the situation and don’t do anything. Queen Elizabeth was quoted as saying, “There is no problem so great that cannot be cured through the passage of time.”
While maybe you’ll have to do something about it at some point, letting it go, letting oneself cool off or pause until clarity comes is a great strategy.
And if you need to respond with something – make it short and sweet. “Thank you,” “Thanks for letting me know,” “Interesting!” and my favorite – “Let me get back to you on that,” are all legitimate responses.
- Family First
Your relationship with your family is your most precious well of goodvibes. Appreciate what there is to be appreciated with your spouse, parents, kids, siblings, close friends, and anyone else you consider family and either fix or forget anything you don’t like. Decide whether or not some quality, action, or event is a deal-breaker or not, and if it’s not then get on with enjoying your loved ones fully.
Forgive them and forgive yourself. If you need to process something to move on ask yourself if their participation is really required, think about what the most loving thing you could do for them and for yourself is, consider getting outside help and see item #4 about pausing before proceeding.
- Give Yourself Permission
Give yourself permission to love your life exactly as it is, and love yourself exactly as you are. Exactly. Exactly. Mourn for the life you thought you were supposed to have or the self you thought you were supposed to be and then embrace who you are and what you’ve got. This works for other people in your life as well.
Forgive yourself for any shortcomings and celebrate your strengths. Give yourself some compliments and let those qualities shine so we can all enjoy them.