Taking time to be grateful is essential to a happy life.
The Fourth of July is a reminder of how fortunate we are. Even though we live in a time where the political arena is stressed and social media and sports figures have too much influence, we still get to enjoy a wonderful part of the world.
Sitting outside my new home near the back bay that I moved into last week, I can watch the sun set on the water. Could it get better than that? I do not think so, yet it is so easy to take our lives for granted. No life is perfect, yet we all have so much to appreciate. Often we do not recognize what we have, or where we live, until it is taken away from us.
My daughter was recently in Uganda working with orphans. She told me stories about these children who have had such incredible loss in their lives and how much they appreciated the small things in life. It comes back to this idea of simplicity, of slowing down, and gratitude.
The less we have, the more we appreciate what do have. The less we have, the more we have time and money to live life rather than taking care of “stuff.” By having more time, we are able to slow down and truly appreciate life instead of rushing off to the next thing.
Lao Tzu, an ancient Chinese philosopher, said “I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.”
This is still true today. Living with simplicity, patience and compassion will make life much more peaceful, rewarding, and joyful.
With our lifestyles, it takes a commitment to live with these three attributes, as our lives get consumed by commercialism, more shiny things to have and buy, and more commitments than we have time for leads easily to being stressed (which is the biggest reason for health issues), leading to lack of patience towards ourselves and others.
Add the admiration we have for success and beauty, which leads to a critical sense of self and others, and suddenly it’s problematic to live with simplicity, patience and compassion.
So how do you live a life full of simplicity, patience and compassion?
- Wake up every day and take a deep breath to be thankful for another day.
- Take time each day to decide what is important to you and focus on those things each day. For me, it is what relationships are important and how can I invest in them on a daily basis.
- Every time I notice I am getting stressed, I take a breath and feel my feet on the ground. I slow myself down and ask myself what is really important here and focus on that.
- Take time every day to be quiet, watch the sunset, go for a slow walk in nature, read, pray or meditate, and look inward.
- When you feel impatient with someone or something, put yourself in the other person’s shoes, or slow down and thing about what is truly important.
- Take time every day to show compassion not just for others but also yourself.
- Every night end with kind thoughts, and take time to reflect on the day and what was important, and say “thank you.”
As scientist and author Jon Kabat-Zinn said, “Voluntary simplicity means going fewer places in one day rather than more, seeing less so I can see more, doing less so I can do more, acquiring less so I can have more.”.
Contact Dr. Shelly Zavala at DrZavala.com or [email protected]