“Mindfulness recognizes that the greatest moments have not passed us by and are not yet to come—they’re with us all the time. We simply need to pause and appreciate them.”
Slow down your rushed mornings.
- No more hitting the snooze on the alarm.
- No more running out the door.
- No more drive-through coffee when you’re running late.
Take control of the morning. That’s where you will find the secret that’s not really a secret. Control is elusive but attainable. Control what’s within your power. Create routines. Practice with resilience. Enforce with the strength of your will, and with time nothing will be able to overcome your state of mind.
- Know what is within your power to obtain.
- Set out to only control only that which is within your abilities.
- Accept setbacks that cannot be prevented.
- Adapt to the ebb and flow of circumstance.
A few will live a golden life full of convenience and luxury. A greater number will wade through misfortune and calamity. Yet, the largest number will experience moments of both. There is no divine justification for what befalls each person’s given lot. Circumstance is indifferent to our character. We must find peace before misfortune strikes so we are mindful of our station when the easy path is taken from us.
So, how may we begin this journey? Perhaps, a simple path is needed. Let us focus and create practices which will aid us in creating moments of value in every part of life. Mindfulness is the beginning of that tranquility of knowing a storm may assail you, but you will remain unfazed for you are anchored as a mountain is to the ground. The mountain may change over time, but a mountain it will remain. We have that same potential. We cannot prevent the storm, but we can endure it well.
Let us start our morning with intention and simplicity. No more rushing to make a deadline. No more being ruled by a clock. Let’s slow down the morning. Let’s create a simple ritual and brew a cup of coffee—slowly. Pour the water over the grounds with intention. Don’t spill. It’s not about the coffee. It’s about the act. You are owning the morning. You are setting the pace and not allowing others to do it for you. You do this for you. This can reframe the day. By slowing down and making time to both create and thoughtfully enjoy a cup of coffee you can practice mindfulness in its simplest form.
So why don’t I? Why is it we sometimes know what we can do and yet find it so hard to change our actions?
The world will still be here in an hour, so start your day thoughtfully with an intentional practice and abandon that false sense of urgency we seem to perpetually carry on our shoulders. Mindfulness, thoroughness and thoughtfulness lead to wiser decisions anyway.
“A long life includes all these troubles, just as a long journey includes dust and mud and rain.” – Seneca
It’s funny how we can so easily forget that we can’t have a long and adventurous life without experiencing some troubles of our own. We’re going to have bad days, rough years and some terrible times.
It would be unrealistic to expect anything less. We need to become comfortable with the unpleasant truth that our lives won’t always be easy. That doesn’t mean we settle for less. Rather, we just need to get better at appreciating that the human experience isn’t just endless days of happiness and joy.
I find that we create value in our lives by overcoming obstacles. Without challenge, we would cease to grow and develop as individuals. Instead, we would remain unchanged and a prisoner to whatever circumstances we were thrown into. We’re actually quite fortunate to experience hardships because those are the moments which ultimately shape and define us.
I can’t grow and change as a person if my experiences don’t change. We actually need the stressful, chaotic and painful moments in life in order to appreciate everything else. We may not always enjoy every step we take, but we can appreciate the journey.
Misfortune nobly born is good fortune.― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
I don’t handle stress well. That’s a kind way of saying I’m actually pretty terrible at dealing with both professional and personal stress. Yes, stress is inevitable, but it shouldn’t be chronic. The issue isn’t everyone else. It’s me. I’m creating behaviors that magnify my stress rather than remedy it.
I react emotionally to things I cognitively understand are likely to happen. My blood pressure spikes. I mutter outbursts of exasperation under my breath. I say things like “Really!” “I can’t do it all!” and “Jesus Christ!” These are just a few of my ramblings that have only got worse after the pandemic. It seemed harmless at the time. No one could hear me. I thought it was a novel way to release stress. Instead, it just increased it. I was hearing my own negative thoughts. Worse, I was vocalizing them. I’ve been programming myself to respond to stressful situations with unproductive and unhealthy behaviors. I’ve actually made my life more stressful.
Now, stress is a habit. It’s become a reflection of my mind.
- We are what we believe.
- We believe what we think.
- We think what we say.
If we live our lives focused on our stress, we can only become stressed. We’re not giving ourselves any other options. Why do we do this to ourselves?
I know there is a better way. I know I can end the cycle. If I change my thoughts, I can change the behaviors. And yet, somehow I don’t do it. I’ve stopped recognizing that I’m in control. I’m merely enduring the day to repeat the cycle tomorrow. That’s absurd. I know I’m not alone in this struggle. I see others go through the same madness. We’re creating a cycle of endless and mindless suffering.
We could do the opposite. We could focus on what we can control. We can control our response to the world. We can focus on what we can change, and stop bemoaning what chance throws our way when it’s inconvenient.
I’m going to take up that challenge. I’m going to break the cycle and live a nobler life. With a little resilience, Seneca, Epictetus and Marcus will be my guides to breaking the stress habit for good.