Way back at the beginning of the year, when my corner of the world was still covered in ice and snow, I chose my Word of the Year for 2014. It is the word ENJOY. Now, in the height of summer, I’m checking in to see how well I’m following my own goal of enjoying life.
It seems a little bit easier when the weather is nice and the world is in full bloom.
Still, I don’t know about you, but sometimes there seems to be a disconnect between the tasks I’m facing each day and the concept of enjoying. When your monkey mind takes over and presents you with a list of things that have to be done – you know, work – it can be easy to get all serious as you get productive. But why shouldn’t you also enjoy the things you are doing as part of your day?
Summer is thought of as a time of leisure, when you can unwind at last and enjoy things like swimming, hiking, picnics, getting out onto the water in a boat or kayak, and just plain relaxing in the sun and shade and warm breezes. Weekends are precious and often spent with family and friends at celebrations and gatherings of many different types. When you’re indoors working on a project, your mind might drift to those times. It’s easy to get distracted by wishing it was playtime.
Instead, how about making your work feel like play? How about enjoying yourself no matter what you’re up to?
It’s easier than it sounds. Our enjoyment of life is mostly in our own inner attitude. We’re trained ourselves to equate fun with not having any responsibilities. Or, in the Puritan work-ethic mindset, fun is what we we’re rewarded with when (and only when) we’ve done all the things on our list.
But those are just beliefs, and beliefs can be changed.
The technique I’ve been using lately, and which I’ve found to be incredibly helpful, is to relax into whatever I’m doing. It goes deeper than just releasing physical tension, although that’s certainly a part of it. You know that feeling of inner tension when you’re rushing to get somewhere on time, or making sure you’ve brought everything you need when you leave the house? It’s stress, and it’s easy to let it become a default attitude.
It’s not as hard as you think to release it, though. Here, give it a try:
Imagine your inner stress or tension is a mask or garment that you’ve put on, and then envision yourself taking it off. Take a deep breath and release the physical tension that can build up in your body. Roll your shoulders back a few times, shake out your arms and legs, and relax your face. Think of a soft kitten purring or a beloved child laughing, something that brings you joy right now, in this moment. Let a gentle smile come to your face as you bask.
Not so hard at all, huh?
The key to success is to incorporate this enjoyable life practice into your everyday routine. Set up reminders for yourself on your phone or post-it notes, “Love Life Now!” and “Enjoy This Moment!,” whatever works best for you. I’ve been practicing it for a while, and now I remember to reset my attitude periodically, moving more toward joy each time.
Add a joyful attitude to your life and remember to release inner tension. You’ll find that it’s easy to enjoy your summer, and still make time for your chosen work. Enjoy!
P.S. If you share your joy on our Feline Dreamers Facebook page, you have the chance to win a book or CD!