Always loved this simple yet wise credo: “Yesterday is History, Tomorrow a Mystery, Today is a Gift, Thats why it’s called the Present”.
I strongly believe that our lives give meaning by focusing on making each and every day worthwhile. Emphasising what will be around the corner, what will, what might happen tomorrow is a waste of time, just because tomorrow will never arrive if we’re always looking at what’s next. Anxious that your life is unfulfilled?
In this context I recommend reading “Life is a Gift” by Gill Edwards. It’s all within the title: Life is a gift – we just need to unwrap it. Often we know what we would like to have/be/do in life, but instead of being filled with love, confidence, and direction, we feel afraid or unworthy, and push our dreams to one side. This is one of those books that is best read a few times, making notes as you go through, of those ideas and comments that ‘speak’ to you. Then start putting the principles into practice.
However, you might think..yes that’s all nice and well and that slogan looks good on a book cover, but how do I actually do this? I am too busy to even think about reading another book and my day takes over because of planning for things tomorrow, next month, next year. To me this book prompted me to start thinking about how and what my perfect day looks like.
If a single day is the fabric, the one brick, the foundation of our life; what does a perfect ‘you’ day ideally consist of? Can every day be the same, will every day be amazing? Of course not..but if we don’t know what kind of day makes us really happy, with what kind of ingredients, anchors and milestones; how would we know we’re back on track?
Building on to one of my previous posts on creating your morning ritual, this takes it a bit further. What are those ingredients that create a ‘gifted’ day for you? Things you only can decide, control, start, influence. Things you can repeat every day and can only blame yourself for if you did not achieve them.
Think about that for a minute..what actually is your ‘gifted’ day?
Recently I revisited Luang Prabang in Laos. Early morning collecting alms by buddhist monks is an ancient southeast Asian, over 400 year old religious tradition and those who give alms earn merit for their next life. In Luang Prabang this ceremony is simply spectacular because it involves almost 30 monasteries and several hundred monks. The alms ceremony is a sunrise event with a long single line of monks in saffron-coloured robes making their way down the picturesque streets. Their feet are bare and each monk is carrying a bart bowl. In full silence and making no eye contact the monks accept the alms, the bits of rice offered by the pilgrims.
This quiet serene time in the morning is a very powerful ritual and sets the tone and pace for the rest of the day. Recognise the feeling that your day just takes over, you don’t know where and how it started and you ended the day feeling exhausted and unfulfilled? To start and end your day with your own rituals is a very impactful yet simple thing to do.
Using your phone as your alarm clock is very convenient and the moment you wake up in bed to first thing check your emails, in case you missed anything, feels very efficient right? So how often have you been enlightenend and felt liberated staring at your inbox, facebook status, tweets, online news and what have you that early in the day. So even before you even set foot out of bed, even before you start waking up properly, you allow yourself to get influenced by external noise setting the tone for the day. Your mind, thoughts have now already been programmed and influenced by the content and tone of these messages.
My dictionary explains: a ritual is a solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order. Typically religions offer people many rituals, like the above buddhist alms ceremony, these rituals act like anchors in our lives. Many of us are looking beyond the traditional religions to place new anchors creating our own rituals.
I know what you are thinking: I have no time to go for a morning run, do complicated yoga poses and meditate for an hour because I have kids to feed, need to beat traffic and have deadlines to kill. However, do you have 10 minutes to spare each morning just for yourself? Even if you have just 10 minutes to set your own ritual is a better start than staring at your phone and get anxious even before you’ve hit the shower.
Here’s a few suggestions to start creating your own ritual and it’s just 6 easy steps:
- Get yourself a regular alarm clock and leave your phone to charge in your living room, your den, anywhere far away from your pillow. Yes! Indeed, this means that you should not step into bed with your phone, tablet or laptop;
- In the morning after switching off that alarm, drink two glasses of water to get your system going;
- Spend just 5 minutes in your bedroom to do some careful stretching, reach for the sky, stretch your arms, welcome the day, well you know the drill but how often do you really do this?;
- Then standing still, sitting down or laying on the floor meditate just for 5 minutes. Fill your mind with positive thoughts, visualise how you want this day to flow; how do you want to come across at that meeting and how you want to feel at the end of the day;
- That’s it! Have some fruit, an apple, fresh orange juice then hit the shower and have a healthy solid breakfast to get you fully prepared for the day!
- After this you allow those emails, messages and news to come to you. Feel the difference..
Try this and I guarantee you that after a few weeks when you skip your ritual, you’ll start missing it. Experiment with it, extend you time. Is your ritual better suited going for a morning walk or run? You’d like to practice your yoga skills? Perfect, this is all about your personal intention creating your own ritual to own your day.
Want to know more? Drop me an email: [email protected] or leave your comments to this post.
Recognise this? You are engaged in frequent conversations with a friend who asked for your guidance to solve a personal issue. Each time your friend is knocking on your door, you are ready to listen and offer advice . You start to become frustrated and depleted after each conversation turns into you realising your friend is not doing a single thing with your advice and only leaves you with all the drama and emptying your box of Kleenex. Or, your boss is talking to you as if you are a junior intern and can only lead by controlling rather than inspiring you. Making you want to leave the company you still love working for. Or, you realise the colleague you just started that project with, has real bad body odor and each time you dread to be in the same room with him and not being able to concentrate on matters important to you.
I recently had the pleasure to work with a client to introduce the principles of “Crucial Conversations – tools for talking when the stakes are high” – a book and approach written by Kerry Patterson*. For each of my above mentioned scenarios, some people opt for the ‘silent killer‘ which means withdrawing from the conversation, avoiding, diverting the issue and hope it will go away just like that. Other personalities feel more comfortable to go into ‘violent mode‘ and want to control the situation, attack and label the outcome of the conversation from a single minded point of view. When under stress and often the stakes are high, we tend to run into either silent or violent mode fast and furious.
There’s obviously a better way to recognise those crucial moments, in your relationship with others, which can have a disproportionate impact on your quality of life. This book provides great insight and tools to guide us through a pattern to improve our communication skills. My favourite steps are: ‘starting from the heart’, realising firstly what is important to you and state your intention. Secondly, ‘make it safe’, creating an environment of trust and mutual respect. To me respect is like the air we breathe, once it’s there we don’t even think twice about it, however when it’s gone, we’re in trouble. Lastly, ‘move to action’, in other words how do you move forward, make happen what is agreed. In my sales days I learned to ‘never forget to ask for the business’, otherwise nothing happens.
My book recommendation for this week: “Crucial Conversations – tools for talking when the stakes are high” by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler.
Do your interactions with people turn into crucial conversations as apposed to just plain vanilla? I am qurious to hear from you and do let me know what works best for you. Interested to learn more?