“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.
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.
“I find it amusing that when we look to nature we never find perfection. We find beauty. We find organization. We find purpose. So, why is it we’re always looking for more than those simple truths?”
We need to stop looking for perfection in our everyday life. Otherwise, we just end up wasting time chasing after an impossible dream. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t seek excellence. We should push ourselves, and others, to perform better, stronger, more amazing feats, but recognize that it’s excellence we’re after and not perfection.
Excellence is about overcoming obstacles by creating systems for success. When we focus on perfection as a goal, we can only be disappointed. This is because perfection can only be achieved in the imaginative mind. Perfection is an idea but not tangible goal. We have to stop setting ourselves up for failure. We need to search for purpose instead.
Try using purposeful intent to drive your performance to new levels of excellence. One key idea to keep in mind is that all systems of success are based on a solid foundation of good habits. Maybe it’s time to take a look at our habits and ask some uncomfortable questions?
- In what ways am I taking shortcuts and not living to my fullest potential?
- What excuses have I made about my recent performance or poor decisions?
- What’s one positive habit I’ve put off adopting? Can I commit to accomplishing it for a day? A week? A month?
- What is the driving force behind your desire to change or grow today? How is this different from your desires to define yourself in the past?
It only takes perseverance and time to turn short term commitments into lifelong habits. Growth can’t happen without active engagement. We have to make the tough decisions to initiate change. We own our experience. We accept responsibility for what is within our control and acknowledge that there will plenty of obstacles outside of that control. Our acceptance, and resilience in the face of hardship, begins our journey toward excellence.