Modern life with its 24-hour news stream, smart phones and computers continually pumping more information into view, makes it increasingly challenging to focus on our individual lives. And even there, our schedules are full, our obligations to friends and family require maintenance, our finances and possession demand constant attention.
Our health is also a major factor contributing to our worldview. Somewhere along the line we traded convenience for nutrition and as a nation, we are seeing the effects, both physical and psychological.
In yoga there is a Sanskrit word for this feeling over overwhelm: vritti. It translates roughly to whirlpool of emotion, or the constant chatter of the mind. There are tricks to turning down the volume that don’t require outsmarting your monkey mind. They don’t require more money, or a ton of spare time. But investing in these tricks can mean the difference between calm alertness and keeping the head above water.
- Seek Nature. This doesn’t mean booking a two-week vacation in the woods. It means stepping outside to admire the night sky, going for a walk, building a snowman, gardening, making mud pies in the backyard with your child.
- Breathe. Sitting quietly, deliberately setting aside your plans, memories, emotions seems so simple, but its is the fundament of our existence. Listening to the air move in and out of your lungs triggers a series of events in the body that slow down the anxious mind.
- Add in the good. It is a daunting task for most people to go on a detox, cleanse, fast or diet. It’s an easy way for most of us to disappoint ourselves. So instead, consider the concept of adding in the good. Target 2 or three combinations of things you can make a part of your healthy self-care. When you sit down to eat, take a moment to acknowledge all hard work that contributed to the food you are about to enjoy. It makes it taste that much more delicious.
- Slow Down. Tim Ferriss pointed out that most of us are so afraid of failure, we don’t even bother to pop the trunk on “failure” and see what it looks like. Will the house burn down if we let the vacuuming go? No. Will the dentist still see us if we are 3 minutes late? Yes, probably. But we let these little things rush us around and rush our kids around. After you do the breathing ask yourself nicely to slow down. It will all get done.
- Think Local. We can use our energies to fret about the state of the world, or we can drive that same energy into something where it does have an impact: our own communities. Networking and volunteering go hand in hand, and giving time is a great way to strengthen our selves by assisting others. Studies have shown that people who volunteer or do hospice care have better health, recover from illness quicker, have lower instances of depression.
Contentment is not gained by owning more, doing more, getting thinner or traveling to a better place. Our levels of happiness and resilience are determined by our outlook and the quality of our attention. As parents, we must adopt tools that will in turn teach our kids how to cope with challenges, how to create conditions for maximal happiness, and how to keep calm and move along.