Happy Sunday everyone! It’s bittersweet to be writing this post as it’ll be the last post of the Mindful Monday series (at least for now). Looking back at the last two months, I can’t thank you all enough for the constant support and interest in this series. I know mindfulness and minimalism aren't attractive to everyone so I’m ecstatic that you could look past the myths and stereotypes and continue to find value!
I started this series with two main goals in mind: firstly, I simply wanted an impetus to write consistently. I had just started my blog and needed to prioritize writing every week out the gate so I could allocate proper time to maintaining Minimal Effort. Turns out writing a blog definitely requires maximum effort! Secondly, I wanted to write about a topic that inspired me as well as my audience. I'm not sure this second goal was as apparent to me when I started, but about three weeks in I noticed I was writing about real practices that were helping me manage my own life. Even on days when I felt like I couldn't get in the zone or if I had trouble coming up with the next topic, I thought less of my audience and more of me: what's going on in my life, what would bring me value this week? Turning in and checking in with myself became very important to me; after all, we shouldn't give advice that we wouldn't take ourselves. Mindful Monday articles became a self-check in point for me, and hopefully for you as well, a little reminder to evaluate how things are going.
Now as September comes to a close, it's time to end the series and take on the next challenge...whatever that may be! But while the series may be ending, our weeks will go on and it should still be a focus to bring meaning into each week. That's why this week's article and meaningful tip is about how to continue to bring meaning into each week/day/moment; how to expand these practices into the rest of our lives.
Here are a few ways to continue with your own Mindful Monday:
Learn to Turn In
Just like when I had writer's block and I "turned in" to help identify what I wanted to write about next, you too can turn in when you're faced with a question you don't know how to answer. If you're unsure how to take the next step or even what your next step is, it's time to turn in and get in touch with yourself.
The best way to do this is through meditation, but that doesn't mean you have to spend the next 30 minutes lying on the floor covered in colored rocks. If the word meditation freaks you out, start slowly by just relaxing and calming your mind. Focus on your breathing and let go of all your worries for a moment. Listen to the sounds around you or soften your focus to something in front of you. If you feel your mind wander, bring it back. Once you feel at peace (or at least more at peace), you're in.
Use this moment to get in touch with your feelings and thoughts and make an effort to understand why you feel or think the way you do. Breaking down these core elements will allow you to tackle whatever issue is at hand much more easily. Make a habit of turning in, assessing where you're at and how you're feeling. This will help keep you in tune with your true values and will help you make decisions moving forward.
It's okay if answers don't come at first. Like all good things in life, turning in takes practice and it will become easier over time. Don't put too much pressure on yourself at first - just try to turn in and experience some peace. Take a small moment out of your work day when you're feeling stressed. Take another small moment later at night once you're at home before you turn your TV on and slip away into mindlessless.
Identify What Can Go
After you've turned in, you can more easily identify what doesn't serve you anymore. What in your life isn't bringing you value? If you're continually stressing out about a certain situation, what can you do to change the situation? Or better yet, what can you do inside yourself to allow yourself to stop stressing about it? What do you need to come to terms with or how can you change your thinking to allow yourself to release the burden of stress?
There will always be stress in life. There will always be challenges. And it's likely that we will always have some sort of negative thoughts enter our minds at some point in time. Be careful not to fight those feelings, it's okay to have negative thoughts. What's important is that you allow them enter, you assess them, and then allow them to leave. Practice letting go of negative feelings and thoughts and your outlook will drastically change.
It's also important to evaluate what can go on a physical level. Regardless of your feelings on minimalism, letting go of some of your physical belongings will undoubtedly make you feel lighter. Clear the clutter from the rooms you spend the most time in, especially the bedroom where you sleep. Allow yourself to wake up in a peaceful environment and start your day with ease. Clean out that closet and donate those clothes you haven't touched in years. If you're feeling really inspired, get into that kitchen and try and figure out why you need eight spatulas. (Hint: you don't).
If you want more on this, make sure you read my post on Finding Meaning Through Minimalism.
If you read last week's article, then you already know every moment is an opportunity and whether you find positivity or negativity in that opportunity is up to you. In fact, every single day is up to you and you are able to define how you feel and how you react to everything that happens. This is an important one, so lets go over that again: every single day is up to you; you get to decide how you feel and how you react to everything that happens.
This is a tough one to swallow sometimes. It's so easy to make ourselves the victim, to get upset because someone didn't do what we expected, or to lash out because we had a tough day. But in reality, we also know right from wrong and it's time we stop allowing situations to get the best of us.
This is a little bit of tough love coming your way, but unless you're a toddler who's still learning about all your complex emotions, there's no excuses for poor behavior. And honestly, I'm sure most of you wouldn't want your toddler throwing a fit either. So it's time you stop letting yourself do it.
Having a bad day isn't an excuse to have a bad attitude. Having a tough job doesn't allow you to be mean or short-fused when you're out of work. And being met with unexpected results (i.e.: someone didn't act or do something you were hoping they would) doesn't make it okay to treat them poorly. It's time to take ownership and flip the script. Regardless of how upset you might be, you still get to decide how you react. You own your emotions and are in control of how you come across. Instead of letting yourself react next time, truly assess what is happening and try to take a path of understanding instead of angst.
Not only will this improve your relationships with the people in your life, but it'll improve your relationship with yourself. Taking ownership for the way we feel and truly understanding why we act the way we do is the first step to changing our future. Choosing positivity (also called the high road) means there's less room for negativity, and we all could use a little less of that.
This week and every week, I encourage you to keep these practices with you and frequently check in to see how you're doing. It's also critical to remember that these are practices, meaning we need to put forth actual effort and practice them. But with consistent effort, these core tenants of understanding our feelings, letting go of what no longer serves us, and taking ownership will undoubtedly bring you meaning and value.
Have a great week everyone & thank you for being on this journey with me!