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mindful minute

We are freed and imprisoned by our thoughts

Written by Mark Fontaine

How do we juggle all the things we tell ourselves we have to do? Life should be more than simply getting things done. That way of thinking leaves us exhausted and stressed out.

When people talk about a work-life balance, they mean that we should find a balance between work and our lives outside of work.  But it’s important to realize that if work is really something you love, you don’t need to run away from it to spend more time at home in front of the television.

What are the things you love to do? What’s on your list?  How are you spending your time right now? How long do you work? Do you enjoy your job? What do you do before and after work? What do you do on your days off?

Think about all the things you do.  How many of them are on your list?  What can you eliminate? Learn to say no.  Remember your life is your own.  You should do what you want to do.  Why do what others want you to do when you can design your own life?

Use the time you create to do the things you truly love.  Be mindful not to use it up with mindless space fillers. Set limits for non-essential tasks such as casual internet surfing or television.  Automate or delegate things you don’t absolutely need to do yourself.

Schedule time blocks through the week for things that are important. Be mindful not to over-schedule.  Free up space between your time blocks to allow for rest or unexpected circumstances.

Make dates with family and friends.  Schedule time for yourself to do something you love to do by yourself. Would you like to play your guitar, read, go for a hike or tend your garden?

As you do those things, be mindful to stay present and enjoy the moment.  Resist the temptation to contemplate obligations and problems. It’s a skill you can learn over time. Strive to bring your mind back to whatever you’re doing. Your mind will no doubt slip from time to time. Be OK with that. Be patient.  Bring your mind back gently and without censure.  Through practice you will get better at being present.

Reflect regularly upon your progress.  How is your life is going?  How are you spending your time?  Do you want to make changes?

You will probably find that you will start living a more fulfilled life and actually achieve more of your goals. You can have quality relationships, have a profession you love, be fit and know how to relax and unwind.  Life need not be a struggle.  Lowered stress will make you perform better in whatever you choose to do. Plus, you will likely become more outgoing and easygoing.

Small steps are the answer. You don’t need to be perfect at shutting off work, being present or pouring yourself into something after work. You just need to take the first step and you’re on your way.


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