Archives for posts with tag: taking in the good

What a difference it makes to get a good night’s sleep. How different from each other can two mornings be? I am making a point of savoring my mood and my experience of morning, this morning, because it is mild, pleasant, quietly joyful, and a total departure from yesterday’s crossness and irritability. I lived a great many years thinking every moment of my life was misery, and finding out that some portion of that was entirely a matter of perspective (and choice) wasn’t just an eye-opener, not merely a good-to-know insight, but wholly useful. I also now know to take time to savor, appreciate, and linger in these lovely quiet moments, and to allow them to become memorable.

(If the only emotional experiences you linger over, invest in, dredge up for later discussion again and again, are the painful and unpleasant ones, the whole of life eventually may feel painful and unpleasant; we become what we practice.)

I find, as with breathing, a hidden gem of a practice within the simplest experiences of pleasure, contentment, and joy – simply that of taking time to experience them fully, to linger over them in my recollection, to “share the story” (however silly it may seem to say aloud “I am having such a nice morning!” to someone else). Allowing our quiet moments of joy and our incidental experiences of pleasant living to become memories, by investing our time and attention in them, ensures that our implicit memory of life in general doesn’t become wholly negative, and instead, supports a steady sense of self, over time, that feels generally quite positive. That’s what I did to become “a positive person” by the way; I took the slow route through practicing “taking in the good” and over time shifted my implicit memory in a more positive direction. Incremental change over time is a thing that happens; we become what we practice.

…Think that over, though, “we become what we practice” – that’s all of it. Everything we practice routinely becomes part of who we “are”. Over time, anything we practice regularly, whether we like it or not about ourselves, becomes who we are. Good and bad.  Choose wisely. 🙂

Thanksgiving is almost here. There was a momentary thought in the background, something like “Oh no – what if I forget the ____?!”, and then I grinned at myself as it slipped away. I’m not especially spontaneous, as people go, but I am adaptable AF. lol I have options. Life’s menu is vast. This matter of living it is not like riding a train; it isn’t on rails, I have choices, plans change with circumstances. Missing ingredients become opportunities to explore new recipes, that’s all. It seems doubtful that anything could really “go wrong” with the holiday weekend ahead. I will cook a holiday meal, it will involve food – tasty and nourishing – and the excellent company of my Traveling Partner. We’ll hang out and enjoy each other for a couple days. Perfect! lol Sufficiency for the win. 🙂

Toward the end of the long weekend, after my partner has departed, I’ll get started on putting up the holiday tree. 😀

Quite a few folks in my network, and community, find Thanksgiving somewhat distasteful, these days, and there is little talk of pilgrims. I find there is definitely room on my calendar for a repurposed harvest season holiday build around a feast, and a feeling of gratitude and community, with which to kick off the winter holiday season. I continue to celebrate Thanksgiving as the holiday it is named to be; a celebration of gratitude, appreciation, and simple joys, a good meal shared in good company, and a long weekend with which to prepare for winter. It is also a season for charity, for giving to others, for reaching out and helping those in need, for doing a little more for people who are not me. It seems a wholesome and well-intended holiday, and I cherish it in that spirit, myself.

I wish you well this Thanksgiving – and I hope you have much to be thankful for. If it is hard times, I hope that you find sufficiency and contentment (and prosperity at some point, too). If you have plenty, I hope you share it. If you have little, I hope you enjoy what you have without guilt or shame. I hope we all find a moment that matters, and take a good opportunity to begin again. 🙂

My busy week has been nothing like “routine”. I’m still smiling. I did not see my Traveling Partner last night, as we’d planned, the hour of evening was later than we’d figured when my hair appointment ended, I’d started the day quite tired already, and my partner considerately suggested I get the rest I needed and embrace the late Thursday night ahead without additional fatigue. Good idea. I agreed. I’m still smiling. I’m alert. Rested. In no particular pain in spite of the rainy morning. I am ready for a late night! Bring it!

It’s been a busy week, sure. It has, however, been more ups than downs. More successes than failures. More challenges overcome, than challenges that thwarted me. More wins than losses. More beautiful moments than aggravating ones. I suspect that this is the truth of life, generally, much of the time, for most of us – if we can find the sweet spot in our perspective from which to view our experience.

This morning I sip my coffee and practice a favorite practice – I take the things I need to practice it with me everywhere I go: memory, experiences, presence, and a kindly disposition toward my very human self. I start simply enough, by remembering something, maybe looking through my recent photographs, or contemplating a moment, conversation, or experience – one that felt really good. That’s the important bit; start with something that feels amazing, before working towards transforming the perspective on a less comfortable moment. Because that’s totally possible too, and does not require compromising my values, telling myself pretty lies, ignoring painful truths, or constructing a fake narrative, it just takes some understanding, some compassion – and some practice. (I learned to transform some painful, awkward, or uncomfortable recollections into recollections with positive value more or less by accident, through the practice of “taking in the good“, and I don’t have “steps” to offer to make that a reliable thing; it requires practice, no avoiding that.)

Did the phrase “working towards” cause you to lose interest? Yeah… You’re probably going to have to get over that. Just saying. There are verbs involved. The effort must, in fact, and unavoidably, be your own. 😉

A beautiful way to say thank you (to me) (because I like flowers) (in vases) (and being appreciated). Flowers from colleagues. My work space smells like a garden. 😀

The complicated week has been dimpled with beautiful moments. A promotion. An appreciative gift of flowers. Smiles from colleagues in moments of shared success and celebration. A festive dinner out with my Traveling Partner and a dear friend. A delightful outcome on new hair color. It’s not even over yet – and there’s still more to appreciate, to pause for, to savor, to relish, to sit with in gentle contemplation over a great cup of coffee, too early in the morning. 🙂

So look, my life isn’t “perfect” (and that’s not a thing, so let that go now!) – my arthritis pain has been kicking my ass all this rainy chilly week, and I’ve had an on again/off again headache that has chased me for days. My schedule is a so far off routine at this point it is wreckage, calendar in useless tatters, which is deeply uncomfortable for me. My sleep, until last night, has been of exceedingly poor quality, offering little rest. A wee fish in my aquarium died. The first time my Traveling Partner ever saw my new place, my bed wasn’t made – which bugs me. The powerful “Me, Too.” meme unfolded on Facebook and Twitter, which although powerful and extraordinary, was also painful, uncomfortable, and saddening. Life is not about perfection. We are human. So human. Pain is a thing. Sickness is a thing. Emotional anguish is a thing. Running late is a thing. Being ditched is a thing. Disappointment is a thing. Setting ourselves up for failure is a thing. Learned helplessness is a thing. This is a “choose your own adventure” sort of experience – and you have choices. But…

It isn’t “easy”. It does take practice. It is utterly necessary to “do something” about “that” – whatever it is. 🙂 One thing at a time, and it’s okay to take it slow, to fumble, to get it wrong, and to have to begin again…

…like…

…a bunch of times.

This is your experience. The craftsmanship involved in making it a “good one” (defined by you) is yours.

This morning I’m fortunate to be sitting in the sweet spot. It’s been a busy week. I’m still smiling. That’s enough. 🙂

Sometimes life seems to have a bitter aftertaste, a hint of hurt, an edge to it – too much work, not enough rest, too much future, not enough in the way of resources; the challenges pile up faster than the solutions. Still… however fast the challenges pile up, life has its sweetness, too. It’s those sweet moments, those small pleasures, those brief interludes of delight that hold the power to wrap me in smiles even while I wade through knee-deep difficulties in one moment or another.

Sometimes even though the world appears to be on fire, it’s really just the sunrise.

We’re each having our own experience. We’re each walking our own mile, each focused on some short bit of the path ahead of us. We’re each telling our own tale, living inside our own narrative and barely able to fully consider what anyone else is going through. Our logarithmically curated personal internet bubbles suggest to each of us that the world is more of whatever we assume we think it is than it was the day before. Unless we try really really hard to find out what is going on elsewhere, we may never know another world, or any other “truth”. Awkward or angry conversations become more common as we are further separated from each other by the tools that purport to connect us. We end up divided and feeling powerless. It’s a very human experience.

A young neighbor, hearing me beyond the words when I described my irritation with anger about my bird feeder pole being wrecked, offered to try to fix it. He succeeded. It’s oriented quite differently now, and just behind my happy smile, I find myself wondering if the birds noticed that, too, and if that would matter to them…? A stranger on the train, on crutches, had difficulty getting a seat in the morning; I asked the person seated next to me to give up their seat for her. That same evening, I got on the crowded train heading home and she returned the favor, asking the young person sitting next to her to give up their seat for me; I felt relieved that I wouldn’t be awkwardly off-balance and standing precariously gripping my cane for the trip home.  I’m just saying; sometimes the world is scary, sometimes the world is human beings taking a moment to be kind to each other.

When the world feels unkind, I practice kindness, myself.

I’ve been making a point to savor life’s sweetness, too, not just lingering over the bitterness of the occasional unpleasant bite. I find it a bit odd, when I think about it, how much more practice it takes to remain aware of what works, what feels good, what supports me well… and how effortless it seems to become mired in sorrow, disappointment, resentment, or anger. Negativity bias is a deep lingering bit of woe that requires pretty continuous practice to mitigate. I meditate. I practice “taking in the good“. I practice being aware and present in the moment, I practice being kind, I practice feeling gratitude – it all matters, it all helps… and I’m still human. 🙂

It’s a journey. The destination is along the way, the way out is through, and the map is not the world. We each walk our own mile.

Today I head out into the world looking for “home”. Later, I’ll enjoy some time with my Traveling Partner, and hear a traveler’s tales. Today, I’ll wrap myself in smiles, and taste life’s sweetness. 🙂

Each sunrise is a moment to begin again, and a moment to pause for now.

 

This may be a tough week for a fair few humans. (Realistically, that may be a generically true statement…) I have a wee personal practice that I use to “lighten the load” on very busy or emotionally challenging weeks. It’s not something I thought up. You can read about it here, too. Rick Hanson, PhD, knows a thing or two about practicing practices. 🙂  Simply this, in as few words as I can manage, savor the good moments. Wait, don’t blow me off on this, don’t shrug and say you already do… pause a moment, and really think this over.

Do you spend as much time immersing yourself in the joyful, sweet, moments and simple pleasures that life affords you, as you do moments of stress, frustration, or outrage? Is every moment of irritation over some article in the news balanced by really sinking into the good feelings in other moments? You can give your soul a chance at wearing a merry grin all day, just because the weather is nice, or because someone held a door for you when your hands were full, or because you really enjoy the way the light strikes that one spot just so right after lunch. It has mattered so much for me, personally, to have made this particular practice a way of living my life. No promises, your results may vary (my often do), and a practice does imply with frankness that there are verbs involved… but this one is so… rewarding. So enriching. So quietly powerful. This one builds over time, though, so it’s helpful if you don’t go into it thinking that 10 minutes from now you’ll radiate pure love and compassion. It is, after all, a practice. So… um… practice it. lol

I keep practicing.

I keep practicing.

I thought about this one as I sank into sleep last night. It felt so incredibly good to lay down, to feel my entire body relax and settle into comfort. To feel wrapped in warm blankets. To take those deep relaxing end of day breaths. To feel utterly at ease for some moments before sleep caught up with me. It felt “better than it should” I thought at the time, and realized in that instant how much I have invested in being able to really feel that moment in such a visceral way that I can recall it easily later. Progress. I woke still smiling, figured I’d share. I’ve probably shared this one before. It’s that big of a deal, honestly. One of the two or three “major changes” I’ve made over the past 4 years, that have had the most lasting positive impact in my everyday experience. 🙂 Definitely share-worthy.

Some practices have clear names that tell what they are about. Meditation. Exercise. Self-care. This one is called “Taking in the Good” by Rick Hanson. Simply that. Today is a good day to try it out if you haven’t already. It’s a good day to begin again, if you’ve taken it up before and let it go. This one? It’s a practice that could change the world – or at least, your world. ❤

It started snowing moments ago. I wasn’t certain I was seeing actual snowflakes, since these were scooting past my window sideways, and there weren’t many flakes. There is clear sky overhead, gaps in heavy thunder-storm-y clouds. Flakes. Then no flakes. Well, damn it – is it snowing or isn’t it? Just as I decide that yes, it is snowing… it stops. The weather continues to toy with me, as I sip my coffee, and gaze out into the morning sky.

There are circumstances in which our choices make a great deal of immediate obvious difference, and others in which it’s not clear what difference any choice of ours might make, at all. On this strange winter morning, I smile recognizing that no amount of fussing over whether or not it is showing makes any difference whatever to the weather, itself. Really… no choice of mine ever does. I mean… we’re talking about the weather, here. Oh. Wait. Climate change. Maybe choices of mine do affect the weather… only… not immediately, and not in an obvious way…?  Right. Choices do matter. The snow stops and starts a couple more times as I consider the impact of my human behavior on the weather, over time, and the questions of “what counts as change?” and “what counts as being affected by me?” I chuckle quietly over the way scale can sometimes change a question, an answer, or the apparent circumstances. (One person spitting on my patio does not count as a rainstorm… on the other hand… dozens of people spitting on my patio may not be a rainstorm, but the gross mess they’ve made is certainly still going to seem significant in one or more ways. lol)

The snow stops. The snow starts. As snow storms go, it’s not particularly impressive. Just tiny flakes of sky dancing quickly past my window, never pausing to land anywhere.

If all goes according to plan, I’ll see my Traveling Partner today. It’s my last day of holiday time away from the office. Tomorrow… a new year, and a return to the office. I am more eager than hesitant, which says good things about the job, and confirms I’ve gotten the restful break from it that I needed. I pause, thinking about plans and planning. Today will be a good one for checking the calendar for the year-to-come and ensuring that I plan out sufficient out of office time to maintain wellness, and momentum. I make a note on my “to do list” so I don’t forget.

A new day, suitable for beginning again.

A new day, suitable for beginning again.

The snow stops. The few clouds still overhead are edged in gold as the sun rises. The snow starts again. Just scattered flakes on the wind, of no real consequence. I wonder how the weather is on my partner’s side of town? Yesterday the mild weather I was out in didn’t extend to his side of town at all; roads over there were frozen, driveways icy, and travel ideally avoided. My thoughts continue toward wondering if he’ll really make it over today… It’s a nice moment, I feel fond awareness that his safety matters, and that I would not struggle with painful disappointment if he should change his plans, today. Disappointment, sure, but not of that painful sort over which drama erupts, just garden variety minor “ah, well, another time then” disappointment, after which one simply moves on with the day quite contentedly, still smiling and feeling safely secure in the awareness that the change in circumstances and plan do not in any way change the amount of affection or high regard we have for each other. There are other days.

A mostly blue sky is revealed overhead as I finish off the final sips of my morning coffee, and no snow flakes. Birds of prey coast on air currents high above the tree tops. A small flock of doves is gathered under the bird feeder. They seem content with the morning, so far. So am I.

Sometimes "enough" doesn't require much.

Sometimes “enough” doesn’t require much.