How to Wake Up and Smell the Roses
by Debbie Mandel
Intellectually, we know that everyday is a good day. We are well acquainted with the proverbs: the glass is half full instead of half empty and it could always be worse. However, emotionally many of us just don’t feel that way. According to the gardening calendar June is the month of roses heralding the balmy, sunny days of summer, ocean breezes, picnics and pine tree country weekends. So why don’t we feel that same sense of joyous, childhood wonder? Instead we continue to worry, feel angry and victimized, or inhale an inexplicable, almost indescribable sadness. Never mind the cup being half-empty, many of us claim not to even hold a cup!
The reason for all this negativity can be explained by the question: How often do we act on an urge to do something creative or fun? Many of us don’t surrender to a moment of pure, uninhibited joy. Sometimes we feel that others will criticize our ideas or our different ways of doing things. We feel self-conscious as though everyone were evaluating us. Some of us feel like we have not succeeded materially or do not feel like whole individuals in the presence of others. Therefore we are greedy for compliments: You look good; you have an impressive house; you have a great job; you are a terrific person. When we don’t get them, we don’t measure up.
The first step towards perceiving and delighting in the little things is to become a whole person. That means we don’t need anyone to complete us and validate us. Wholeness means having self-esteem, a good self-concept and independence. It is easier to discover happiness all around us when we feel complete and in balance. Zen philosophy claims that enlightenment is contained in a single flower because when we appreciate a blossom, we have become spiritual and focused. We have found happiness in nature and in our own nature. The following are specific suggestions to help us smell the roses. I have tried each one personally to make sure that they all work.
- Take a brisk, early morning walk in spring and summer when the streets are quieter than usual, so you can hear the birds, smell the fragrances and feel the fresh air on your skin. If you have a backyard, sit quietly in the early morning light. Absorb the beauty that is around you.
- When you meet people during the course of your day, say good things. Instead of complaining, commenting: how annoying the weather is, how bad the restaurant is, how lazy your family is, how rotten you are feeling, etc., try to make others feel good about themselves. When you utter cheerful comments, others become energized and that energy returns to you.
- Dress to suit yourself. Mix and match clothes that express who you are today. Wear colors that make you feel uplifted or relaxed. Treat yourself periodically to new accessories to feel special; give yourself these gifts. In fact, find an accessory that expresses who you are- that people can identify with you. It could be as simple as a fragrance which is unique to you or an animal necklace that you always wear. The animal represents you- who you are or who you would like to be.
- Exercise to the point of being in the flow. Moving as one complete unit mind and body-effortlessly generates happiness and inspiration. We are more receptive of intuitive signals similar to a moving meditation.
- Eat slowly. You don’t need a fancy, expensive dental contraption to help you eat slowly. Create an attractive place setting and use a small spoon and fork. Chew your food slowly. Really taste the flavors and sense the different textures. Don’t eat; dine.
- Laugh about your shortcomings. You don’t need to take yourself so seriously. If you are developing your self-esteem, then you can be amused by your own nature.
- Hold yourself accountable for your choices. Don’t give away your power.
- Stay focused and interested in whatever you are doing. Do it with complete attention and care.
- Realize that you possess nothing: Lovers, children, a house, furniture, or a car. When you make peace with this thought, you release yourself from bondage. You can never lose what you do not possess. Everything is a loan.
- Take risks. Don’t lose your swagger.
- Let go of the need to be right.
Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WHLI 1100AM in New York City , produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com