Savour the day sounds like a great bumper sticker.
Except some days I bet you don’t feel like savouring.
Ever have anything unexpected happen?
Things not go exactly the way you planned?
Or maybe something went completely off the rails?
Of course it did.
That’s because despite all our wishful thinking that it wasn’t, life is random and unpredictable.
Life has ups and downs.
Good times and bad.
Blissful happiness and gut-wrenching sorrow.
And everything in between.
That’s why it seems to me that our on great task in this life is to learn how to savour the day, no matter what the day brings.
To learn how to go with the flow of life and to be mindfully present to all of it.
Life is Messy
Let’s face it – life is messy.
And sure, sometimes we are the architects of our own challenges, the creators of our own mess.
We make choices, many of them unconscious, that lead us down questionable paths.
You know the ones that end up with the head shaking question, “What was I thinking?’
And while that may be true, it’s also true that lots of the messy and mucky things in life are way out of our control.
Things that life drops at our doorstep and says “Hey! Have a go at this.”
Unpredictable, largely unwanted, annoying, irritating, frustrating stuff.
But life also brings us delightful, amusing, heartwarming, inspiring, joyful, wonderful moments.
It actually brings a lot of those.
We just miss out on them because we are too busy or distracted to take notice.
Especially when they are wrapped up in the messy stuff.
It’s no wonder that we think savouring the day is elusive.
There is a Solution
Mindfulness guru Jon Kabat-Zinn wisely said:
You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn how to surf.
In other words:
Unless it’s a mess you are creating, you can’t stop the unexpected or unwanted from happening.
Life will continue to be random and chaotic.
But that doesn’t mean you have to pull the covers over your head and think “poor me”.
No not at all.
You can learn how to surf – how to go with the ebb and flow – the ups and downs of life with ease and grace.
You can learn how to savour the day no matter any day might bring.
A Beautiful Partnership
Sounds great but…
How do you that?
Well you cultivate a beautiful partnership between mindfulness and resilience.
Mindfulness invites us to be fully present to what is happening in the moment – to actually pay attention to the here and now. It allows us to navigate the full range of our emotional experiences – from the yahoo to the yucky.
Resilience is a set of skills that helps us manage whatever life throws at us – from hardships and adversity to the minor challenges of our daily lives.
Put them together and that synergy illuminates a way down life’s path.
It’s actually life-long work – building and refining the mindset, skills and routines that let us show up to life and participate fully.
Learn How to S.U.R.F to Savour the Day
There are 4 things you need to do if you want to learn how to surf the waves of life.
Surround yourself with boosters.
A booster is simply something that sets you up for success.
That starts with what I consider the essential habit of well-being – taking time to pause and breathe throughout your day. It creates a space to stop and notice what is happening around and within us, to reconnect mind, body and spirit. When we do that, we are fully in the present moment.
If you are going to be able to enjoy the good times and manage the bad ones, you need to honour your body.
That means making how you move, eat, sleep and practice self-care a priority. Practical and consistent wellness routines create a stable foundation from which we can take on the day as it comes.
The other way we set ourselves up for success is to build meaningful connections.
Yup human beings need other human beings – for support, inspiration, accountability and companionship. But relationships take work. They only thrive when we bring conscious intention, openness and empathy to the table.
Upgrade your inner conversation.
The conversation in your head has a direct impact on your choices and behaviours.
Left to it’s own devices, that inner chatter can definitely get in the way of being able to savour the day.
Where our attention goes, our energy follows, so being able to build a positivity mindset is critical.
That doesn’t mean we put on rose coloured glasses and ignore difficult emotions or situations. Instead we allow ourselves to be present to what is happening and hope audaciously – looking forward with a firm belief that positive change is indeed possible.
Contrary to popular belief, thoughts are not facts.
Fun fact: We can actually consciously choose which ones we pay attention to.
We can spend a lot of energy thinking, worrying or whining about stuff that is out of our control. When we let go of what is out of our control and turn our attention to the things that are, we can actually have some influence over what happens next.
If you redirect your focus and energy so that you control what you can, then you can manage whatever is happening with greater ease.
I know that might seem impossible sometimes, but it’s actually just a skillset – learning how to interact differently with your inner conversation.
Sometimes it seems that we simply get stuck in a way of thinking. When we learn some simple ways to pivot to a different perspective, we make a shift to unstick from the thoughts that are holding us back.
Rely on and refine your skills.
Our skills are the tools, tricks and strategies we use to navigate life.
When times are tough, we rely on the skills we have already mastered. The time to learn new skills and refine existing ones is when life is less chaotic.
Are there a ton of skills to learn?
But remember you have a lifetime to do that. No crash courses necessary. We begin by figuring out which skills we have and which ones we need to practice.
I am a big fan of the principle: do what works – meaning do what works for you.
The more we use strategies that work us for, the more efficient and effective we are at using our time and energy.
Think of it this way: if you are not a morning person, stop trying to be one. Figure out what kind of person you are and put that to good use.
One thing for sure that doesn’t work for anyone is dragging around things we don’t need. Whether it’s a relationship, an old grudge or too many t-shirts, they only sap our energy.
When we let go and release the unneeded in our lives, we free up mental, physical and emotional space.
Of course, if we can teach ourselves how to make conscious choices, then we are able to use all of the other skills in our toolkit.
Functioning on auto-pilot is a 21st strategy for dealing with too many items on our to-do list.
We make choices without considering the consequences. We say yes to things we would rather say no to. Doing that is a recipe for chaos of our own creation.
Focus your time and energy.
It’s probably not a news flash but there are only 24 hours in a day. Funny then that we try to function like there are more.
Time is a limited resource. So is your energy. Of course, the amount of energy available on any day varies depending on how well you replenish it.
Spending valuable time on energy drainers takes away your ability to roll with the ups or the downs in life.
One big energy drainer and time waster is distraction. It’s just a fancy form of procrastination.
Being able to focus your attention either on the task at hand, or what it most important, preserves both your time and energy.
Of course, in order to prioritize what matters, you need to know what matters.
If everything is #1, then nothing really is.
If we don’t know what is most important, on any given day or life in general, then chances are things far less important will get our time and attention.
Which brings us to our never-ending to-do list.
Quite likely you have way too many things on it. Some that have been there a long time.
I bet there are many things that you never quite get around to completing.
If you tackle your undones, then they don’t become a constant source of irritation in your inner conversations.
Unless they are things that neither important nor urgent. Then in the interest of savouring the day, delete or delegate them.
Maybe you imagine that life would be better if there were no waves to surf.
That savouring the day was just all puppy dogs and rainbows.
Nope not at all.
The up and downs are a good thing.
They are what reminds us that we are alive.
No ups and downs and life is just a flat line.
You need the dark to appreciate the light.
Sorrow to appreciate joy.
Chaos to appreciate calm.
Life is an up and down ebb and flow adventure.
Sometimes we are drifting down the lazy river and sometimes we are shooting the rapids.
No matter what, show up for the ride and savour the day.