An exercise worth trying during any season

As the summer rolls on and time seems to pass at a quicker pace than I like to admit, I realize how important it is for me to remain as present as possible and cherish these days.  We talk about ‘being present’ all the time but I think this concept is as unique for each person as their own experiences.

For me, ‘being present’ is about recognizing an experience, acknowledging my energy, and appreciating my emotional response without getting caught up in interpreting the event or worry about what is going to happen next.  I know this sounds pretty direct but the truth is that it’s not always easy.  However, one of my favorite ways to embrace any moment (even the frustrating ones) is to smile and take a deep breath.

Try it out.  Pause, put a smile on your face, then take a deep breath in.  As you try this, you will become more aware of your body, your emotion, and tension that may be present. If you continue to smile and breathe for a few minutes you will notice that if tension is present, it starts to ease a bit and if you are feeling good to begin with, the smile only enhances your experience to its full capacity.

If you want to see the true magic of this simple exercise, try it during a challenging moment.  For instance; when someone has just said something offensive or hurtful or when something doesn’t go the way you would like.  The beautiful thing about smiling is that even if you don’t ‘mean’ the smile or you feel like you are forcing it, your body and mind respond just as if it is genuine.

So practice this exercise out this summer and remember that being present isn’t just about embracing amazing and beautiful moments; it’s about taking an active part in our own realities and remembering that we are wonderfully complex and thoughtful beings that are full of love, hope, and compassion.

Being present doesn’t have to take a lot of energy or even a lot of thought.  It just takes a moment to be totally real with ourselves and open to an experience.  The more we engage in this exercise, the better our hearts and minds will be to practice love and compassion for ourselves and for those around us.

Even though smiling may not be an exercise that helps you tone up your physical self;  it targets the most important part of our bodies….our heart and souls.   So go get your smile on and be present.  🙂


Monday attitude check

Happy guys

I rarely approach a Monday with the same enthusiasm as a Friday.  Maybe it’s because I have more restless sleep on Sunday night, maybe it’s because my mind can’t turn off the ever-increasing ‘task list’ for the week, or maybe it’s just because I’m not quite ready to release the sweet but so short weekend.  There are a variety of factors at play here, but it is not lost on me how lack of restful sleep and a stressed mind impacts my overall sense of well-being and my attitude to approach the pending day.

The problem is that it’s not just me who feels this energy.  When I am overwhelmed, tired, and frustrated the people in my life can tell and feel this energy too.  I spend a lot of time exploring things that improve my well-being and working on my self-awareness, but things still don’t always work out the way I would like sometimes.  Some days I am simply in a foul mood or just don’t feel my best and being hopeful and enthusiastic doesn’t come so easily. I have to practice self-compassion on these days and remind myself that nobody is perfect and being happy or at peace doesn’t mean living in some delusional state that is void of frustration or challenges or even heartache.  However, when I am feeling frustrated, tired, or otherwise discouraged; it is important for me to pause and think about who I am subjecting all of this awesomeness to and what is my motivation in sharing this kind of energy? Do I just want everyone to know that I’m in a bad mood or am I looking for help and support right now? And most importantly, what can I do to change my outlook on things?

All of that said, I am not suggesting that everyone suppress bad days, gloomy moods, or emotional challenges…I am suggesting that we think about why we feel the way we do and what we can do about it ourselves instead of falling into the habit of using complaining as our primary coping mechanism.  And if you are having a bad morning or entire day, own it.  State that you are in a bad mood, but don’t just complain about it to people.  Assert your problem then figure out what you are going to do about it.  Otherwise it makes for an endless cycle of complaining and bad energy.  And that makes for an exhausting day, any day of the week.

My goal for today is to reduce my complaining and focus on solutions and healthy outlets.  I am not so unrealistic to say that I won’t complain at all….could you imagine?  But at least I’m increasing my awareness and maybe instead of continuing to complain, I will respond and resolve my feelings before it turns into a full-fledged bad mood!  Of course, it may mean that I do nothing more than pause, breathe, and repeat.  Who knows, with enough practice, maybe someday I will bookend my week with TGIM and TGIF!

Hope everyone has a Happy Day! 🙂