Archive for self care

Slow Time and the Pursuit of Happiness

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on May 16, 2018 by thecrossingchicago

I had a chat with a friend the other day about happiness.  She asked me about the pursuit and if it really comes to any meaning.  Perhaps it’s just futile and only leads us on a goose chase that leaves us feeling tired and bitter.  It was a great conversation and it gave me a lot of insights as I pondered it.

I once heard an author say that all of his writing comes from a question.  In other words, he doesn’t write because he thinks he’s an expert about something.  Instead, he is processing out loud as he writes.  That’s exactly what I am doing here.  I’m wondering as a wander, so to speak.

In such a conversation, it seems that we have to start with the semantics.  What is happiness?  Is it really something to be “attained”?  In my own definition, happiness is merely the emotional reaction to what we perceive another is doing to or for us.  While I’m probably just being over-analytical, I would venture that what we are really looking for is joy or contentment.  Or better yet – serenity.

If we stick with the word “happy,”  I have my doubts that it is something that can be pursued and caught up with.  It appears to be a futile chase toward something that is ethereal and can never fully be grasped.  Rather, it would be more like Thoreau’s estimation that it is something akin to a butterfly that will come and land on our shoulder if we would just stop and smell the roses.

Regardless of the right term – happiness, joy, contentment – I find myself more and more seeing it as a state of being rather than a condition to be attained.  In all of its elusiveness, we are shooting at a moving target.  It is nearly impossible to hit something that is constantly changing.  As I was considering this idea, it occurred to me: we are also moving.  If both the target and the source are in motion, then how can we expect to ever make contact!?

What I mean is this: when we aren’t centered and mindful, how do we really even know what we want?  How can we ever come to a place that we can be assured is genuine joy?  It is like hoping that two atoms from opposite sides of the world will eventually make contact.  It’s nearly impossible and only guaranteed to leave us worn out and hopeless.

So what would it look like if we did the inner work to truly know ourselves?  How would it be to slow time and actually live in the moment with complete awareness and intentionality?  Not multitasking, not running, not chasing.  Instead – breathing, sitting, being.

I’m talking to myself as much as anyone, but I would be willing to bet that, if we would stop and smell the roses, we would experience a great shift.  Not only would happiness not seem like an elusive ideal, but we would likely realize that, in that moment, we already have all that we need.  For the first time, we will experience joy and contentment.  Finally, we will have what we ask for in the old prayer: courage, wisdom, and the ultimate peace of mind: serenity.

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Thirst

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 8, 2018 by thecrossingchicago
I took a self care day today.  I knew that I needed it, but I had no idea how much.  It was nothing too crazy – I didn’t go to the spa or try to find a guru on a Tibetan mountain.  I kept it simple, but it was just what my soul was longing for.
I started the day with a coaching session with my coach.  I walked away feeling refreshed and reenergized with renewed focus and centering.  I then went up to my study and meditated.  I always love the way I feel after meditating, but lately I have been out of the habit.  Next, I did some journaling with an exercise that my coach gave me and gained some great insights into myself and what my True Self really needs.  Finally, I walked a couple miles to my gym, had a good workout, walked back, and did a little writing.
When I began the day, I committed it to being a day of self care.  I realized that, although I just came back from vacation, there was some inner work that needed to be done.  What I didn’t expect, though, was how much less burdened I would feel afterward.  I felt an existential weight lifted off of my chest and, for the first time in a while, had a clarity around what my next life steps need to be.
As I was sitting on the bench between sets of bench pressing, something occurred to me – we wait until we feel like we need self care before we do it.  It reminded me of being thirsty.  We typically wait to drink water until we are thirsty, but by then we are already dehydrated.  And so it is with inner work, spiritual disciplines, and self care.  If we wait until we feel like we need them, we are already well on our way toward burnout.
Instead, what would it look like if we committed to doing spiritual practices every day?  Meditation, journaling, walking meditation, just being outside and breathing – all of these things are a simple way to stay ahead of the wrecking ball.
When we are well rested, centered, and mindful, we are much more productive, much more objective, and much more truly ourselves.  Don’t wait until you feel like you need it.  Don’t wait until burnout is already lurking around the corner.  Live intentionally and make self care a part of your rhythm of daily living.