I have told myself for years that when I retire from teaching I am going to enjoy the month of September because to me it is a transition month between summer and fall. It offers great weather and many fun activities but it is also a time when school is back in session and parents are more focused on the workplace again. I dream of September and retirement because I will be able to enjoy the calm while everyone has headed back to their tasks. Last week though I realized that we often push off enjoying life’s moments to a future time. Why do we not enjoy our lives more in the present? Here are a few ideas of how I think we can enjoy our lives more right now.
I have always hated when someone suggests this because my first thought is I cannot possibly slow down with everything I have to do. If you are like me, you are juggling two tasks at once while thinking of four more you need to complete. I am talking to myself while I try to stay focused and add one more thing to the to do list. I want to suggest to you that this only leads to stress and worry. I have discovered if I slow down I am actually more productive and definitely happier. Make a list of mission critical tasks and do them. Ask for help when you can. Slowing down requires some self-talk. When you start to feel stressed be your own cheerleader whether you need to say “calm down”, or “I will get this done.” Use whatever works to push stress away.
Doing nothing from time to time gives you a chance to relax and recharge. When you are bombarded with problems to solve and people are all vying for your attention, quiet moments are necessary to reflect and escape. When we can rest and do activities we enjoy, it makes us more productive when it is time to work again. Rest allows us to think more clearly and function better.
Setting the priorities for your day can help too. You have to be the one in charge of your day, don’t let your day control you.
It is very easy to see everything that is wrong in your life, but all that does is make you unhappy. Make a list of everything that is a blessing for you and realize that there are people around you who are struggling so much more that you. Open your eyes to the positives in your life instead of focusing on the negatives.
We become so caught up in the whirlwind of life that sometimes we don’t enjoy the moment we are in at the time. When you are with friends or family don’t spend your time thinking about all the work you have to do. Savor the important moments. Concentrate on the people with whom you are speaking, enjoy a leisurely meal, and observe the beauty around you.
Are you listening to the people around you or are you thinking about your next task or when you can insert your voice? Try listening without interrupting and you will be amazed at how much you can learn about someone. Also practice listening to what is happening around you.
Focus on family and friends
Don’t allow your work to go from a profession to an obsession. Spending every waking minute on work is not healthy for anyone. Carve out time to make memories with family and friends and the enjoyment of your time spent with them will help you with productivity in other areas.
There is an energy in nature and going outside is a great way to recharge. Sit on the porch and listen to the sounds of the neighborhood and watch the world from a comfy chair.
Spend time on you
If you do not take care of yourself, it is difficult to care for others well. Exercise, do what you love, eat well, and see your doctors regularly.
We spend too much time on our screens wasting time checking our e-mail and scrolling through social media. Every once in a while, put your phone down and don’t check it for at least an hour.
Put away the to do list
I take a day now and then when I don’t do anything that I don’t want to do. The housework and other tasks will all be there the next day.
Laughing is the fastest way to make us happy and it’s contagious. If I was laughing around my sister, she would start laughing without even knowing what was making me laugh. It’s hard to be in a bad mood when you are laughing.