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A dose of inspiration

"Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending." - Carl Bard

"We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something that we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have. " - Frederick Keonig

"Stress is the trash of modern life- we all generate it but if you don't dispose of it properly, it will pile up and overtake your life." -Terri Guillemets

Monday, July 12, 2010

Turtles Know Best

Have you ever had one of those experiences where you drove for 20 minutes and couldn't remember any of the drive once you arrived? Or you scarfed down a meal in a hurry and then it occurred to you that you didn't taste anything you just ate? Well it happens to us all from time to time. It's difficult in today's fast-paced, fully-booked, and technology-driven world to slow down and really notice what is around us. When you're in a state of automatic pilot, you may be on a mission to get somewhere or to do something important, but in the meantime, you are missing the present. As the popular saying goes, "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, that's why we call it the present." This could not be more true, but we often forget to embrace the present moment in the hustle and bustle of every day life. Learning how to be more mindful can really increase your quality of life, as well as the quality of your relationships, your happiness, and even your health!

What does it mean to be "mindful?" Well, this term is often used along with meditation, meaning that you pay close attention to such things as your breathing and focus in order to slow yourself down and clear your mind. When you are taking a walk, you can be more mindful and observant of your surroundings by "getting out of your head" so to speak, and noticing the little things around you. Look at the beautiful flowers growing in your neighbor's garden, notice the scent of the ocean, feel your muscles work hard as you climb a steep hill. Noticing the little things around you (or in your body) will help you to feel grounded, reduce stress and anxiety, and most of all, help you to appreciate each moment as it comes. Likewise, listening attentively to what a friend, family member, or partner is saying to you can help to improve your relationship, as they will know that you care enough to put your focus on them. This will make them feel important and special, and can only improve the quality of the relationship. Giving another person this type of attention and quality time is the best gift you can give them, and it will feel great when it is reciprocated as well!

Now you may be wondering why a picture of a turtle was included with this article. Not only do I think that they have the right idea by taking their time getting from place to place (not to say that people should be late, but slowing down the pace can help with observing your surroundings) but I also wanted to share the beautiful details in the turtle's shell. I'm assuming that the average person has not spent very much time looking at turtles' shells, and this seems to be a great example of a time when it would be great to be mindful of what is around us. If we rushed past it, we wouldn't have been able to observe or appreciate the natural beauty that has been there all along.

I encourage you to try it for yourself- sit quietly and observe the colors as you watch the sunset, while taking some slow, deep breathes. Smell the scent of the roses the next time you pass by a rose garden, and really breath it in. Listen closely to what your child is telling you and give them your full attention by facing them and maintaining consistent eye contact. I bet you will notice a feeling of satisfaction and calm come over you from making these small changes in how you use your time.

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