March brings hints of spring, the waiting and stillness is over and new life emerges with sweet, moist dew and the promise of something new. Can we do as much internal spring cleaning as external?
Some people wait all day for 5pm, all week for Friday, all year for the holidays, all their lives for happiness. But you don’t have to be one of them. Don’t wait until your life is almost over to realize how good it has been. The good life begins right now, when we stop waiting for a better one.
What if we use Spring to pay more attention to the beauty and practicality of living a simpler life. A life uncluttered by most of the meaningless drama, distraction, and busyness people fill their lives with, leaving us with space for what’s truly meaningful: a life that isn’t constant rushing, worrying and stress, but instead contemplation, creation, and connection with the people and projects that matter most to us.
To be practical in this endeavor we have to be honest about the drama, distraction, and busyness in our lives. I'm looking at my own choices as a way to begin that internal spring cleansing.
- How often do you engage in the exchange of valueless conversation or even gossip?
- How often are you thinking about other things when someone is talking to you?
- Do you check social media apps on your phone when you’re working, or when you’re spending time with loved ones, or just constantly without discretion?
- Do you send the occasional text message while driving?
The biggest cost of filling life with drama, distraction, and busyness (assuming you don’t crash from the texting and driving), is a gradual, long-term decline of effectiveness, contentment and happiness. When we get in the habit of persistently dividing our attention, we’re only partially engaged in every activity, but rarely focused, much less calm, about any one. And this dizzying lack of calm focused energy eventually trips us up and brings us down to our knees.
It doesn't have to be this way!!
The bottom line here is that too often our minds are set on getting somewhere else. Too often another beautiful day comes to an end with hundreds of unnoticed moments behind us—we didn’t notice them because they were insignificant to us. And over time our entire lives can become a massive pile of unnoticed and insignificant moments on our way to more important things. Then the important things get rushed through too… to get to the next one, and the next, until our time is up and we’re left questioning where it all went.
SO what to do? Here are some steps that have helped me.
- Identify what’s most important to you, and eliminate as much as you possibly can of everything else. In other words, be ruthless about putting first things first. Say “no” to unnecessary commitments that do not support your priorities.
- When you start an important activity, turn to it with your full attention and set a conscious intention to be fully present with the act—to do nothing but this one activity for a set time. You might think, “Just write” or “Just run” or “Just be here with this amazing child of mine.”
- When you notice your mind drifting and thinking about something else, or if something happens and your attention momentarily gets pulled elsewhere… just notice. Then take a deep breath and return to being fully present with the activity
- Treat each moment with reverence, as if you are one with what’s happening. See the brilliance of the activity and the present moment.
Happy Spring Cleaning!