8 Ways to Make Every Day Your Best Without Pretending You’re Happy or Letting Go.

Via on Oct 15, 2013
Photo: Vinod Nanaiah on Pixoto.
Photo: Vinod Nanaiah on Pixoto.

“To stay with a broken heart, with a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness and wanting to get revenge—that is the path of true awakening.”

~ Pema Chodron

There are some mornings when you wake up and you’re not really sure how you feel yet—the sky isn’t quite dark, but it’s also not yet light.

You’re awake and ready to move and make coffee, but you’re not close to alert or mentally crystal clear.

You had a mixture of strange dreams, compiled of family members’ faces you miss and subconscious hopes you didn’t even know were there until they so unexpectedly popped up into your night.

You’re excited about your afternoon plans and saying good morning to your daughter, but you can’t fully explain why you still feel a little mopey and kind of…heart-achy.

And what do you do? When you feel that your day and your mindset could potentially go in several directions? You do this:

1. You get out of bed—after lying there for a moment.

You let your possibly raw, tender or unexpressed feelings settle into your tissues and your conscious mind so that you’re able to be fully present in your life—able to deal with whatever comes up because you’re not hiding from yourself or your life—and then you get the f*ck up. You roll to your side, swing your legs over your bed and you. get. up.

2. You practice yoga.

Ideally, this is a real, physical yoga practice that involves breathing and moving through sun salutes and postures that are designed to release the aforementioned experiences from your tissues, so that you don’t carry around yesterday’s tensions and burdens. Yet here’s the secret: you can practice yoga in many different ways.

Just to name a few: ride a bike, walk on a scenic local trail, chew and taste every bite of your breakfast. Breathe. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.

3. You don’t let go.

You eventually do—maybe—but you remember for dear life—and you accept that.

I cannot help that I have a memory that hangs onto exact words from a conversation from years ago or the knowledge of exactly the way I felt in a situation, but let me tell you that pretending you don’t remember does no good. This is called denial.

Instead, be open to the reality that who you are might not be who you “want” to be. Jealousy, hurt, fear—these are all emotions that are extremely uncomfortable—but it’s much worse to pretend that they don’t exist.

Learn to acknowledge, accept and name what’s going on inside of yourself and your life, even if it’s not ideal or welcome.

4. Hug and kiss.

Hug your children. Kiss your husband good-bye before work. Hug your mother. Kiss your friend on her cheek. Cuddle your dog.

In short, never forget to live the true human experience of touch—we crave it because we need it.

5. Throw away your bucket list.

Oh, bucket lists, I really don’t like these. Why? Because you should already be living every single stinkin’ day like it’s your last. Will that mean climbing Mount Everest today? Hmmm, probably not since you have a nine o’clock meeting. On the other hand, does this concept shape your every interaction?

Will you kiss your husband good-bye after he irritated you because you never know what the day will bring? Not to be negative, but it’s true. This is the real world.

Will you take a chance and ask for that raise you know that you deserve (the proper way, of course) because you’ve decided to live your life to its fullest every day, and not just on your birthday and Christmas?

Live. Every. Damn. Day. Like. It’s. Your. Last. (And throw away your bucket list, please.)

6. Open your heart.

Okay, I don’t want to get all syrupy new-agey on you, but this is true: life hurts. It stings in fact. However, if you close and harden and become crotchety and bitter as you age, then you attract these type of people and experiences right back into your life. Open up your heart, even and especially when it hurts.

You got burned in love? Try again. You got fired from your job? Apply for a better one.

The world needs more people who aren’t afraid of pain and who know that they are resilient enough to survive, thrive and move on.

Be a phoenix not a lemming.

7. You are not too old or too young.

Ageism—another one of my arch nemeses. You are not too young to have your own thoughts and ideas and you are not too old to learn new things, to change or to simply love living. If people around you are telling you otherwise, find empathy for their obviously limited view of their own capabilities and shrug off their words—and then proceed to do whatever the hell you want.

8. Eat mindfully.

Eating disorders go in many directions. If you are ignoring your body’s hunger cues and eating foods that generally make your body feel bad, you are not doing yourself a service as far as pursuing your best day.

So yesterday was a day filled with poor choices? (Or maybe your life up to now has been?) So what. I can tell you from personal experience that our bodies are more regenerative than we often think and that effective change happens when you take baby steps, not running leaps. (You know, the old tortoise and the hare story.)

I look out the window and notice that the sky is definitely a brighter shade of grey. The looming, unforecasted rain casts a heaviness that I feel in my bones. (Literally, even my once-broken bones feel this weight.) I decide to let the mysterious melancholy that I feel wash over me and through me, rather than turning away from it.

I get up to make my coffee and I look forward to feeling its smooth, velvety texture roll over my tongue.

I breathe and feel my chest expand with air.

I dreamt in black and white last night—I always do. I dream in shades of grey.

This makes me aware that life is a spectrum and not two distinct colors. I want to see each shade for what they are, because that’s living my life—that’s being authentic and this truth and clarity make each day my best.

I sit with my loneliness and my own inner shades of grey because I know that living from this place allows me to move towards the end of the spectrum that I choose.

I believe that life is a choice.

We can’t always choose our circumstances and we might learn to shape and transform our feelings and thoughts through effort, but we still have to own up to our almost primal and instinctual reactions.

So you want to live your best day? Then be you. Feel you. Live every day right where you are.

“To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain, and play with it!” ~ Charlie Chaplin

 

Like The Mindful Life on Facebook.

Ed: Bryonie Wise

 

 

About Jennifer S. White

Jennifer is a voracious reader, obsessive writer, passionate yoga instructor and drinker of hoppy ales. She's also a devoted mama and wife (a stay-at-home yogi). She considers herself to be one of the funniest people that ever lived and she's also an identical twin. In addition to her work on elephant journal, Jennifer has over 40 articles published on the wellness website MindBodyGreen and her yoga-themed column Your Personal Yogi ran in the newspaper Toledo Free Press. She holds a Bachelor's degree in geology, absolutely no degrees in anything related to literature, and she currently owns a wheel of cheese. If you want to learn more about Jennifer then make sure to check out her writing, as she's finally put her tendencies to over-think and over-share to good use. Jennifer's first book, The Best Day of Your Life, is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and on her website.

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29 Responses to “8 Ways to Make Every Day Your Best Without Pretending You’re Happy or Letting Go.”

  1. Sabrina says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Thank you for the post regarding its ok to feel. It’s ok for me to awaken feeling pain, unsure of the my emotions, to feel unsettled.

    Thank you for encouragement to just go out, this morning after kissing my husband, hugging my babies and enjoying my tea. I walked and walked and walked. I met my non scale goal of a 15 minute mile today and was so happy I cried. I stopped in the local Ampm and grabbed a cup of hot cocoa to soothe my excitement and told strangers of my victory. Thank you for saying that’s ok.

    And finally thank you for the enthusiasm of enjoying a few traditional yoga posses. When I returned home my youngest daughter who is almost 3 was so excited to show me her downward dog and transition to cobra that we did this repeatedly for about ten minutes. How fun it was to teach her to breathe.

    I’m so glad I’m reading this blog daily!

  2. Riles says:

    Works great til you assume that everyone has had a husband and children, or that they haven't lost them tragically…

    • Those are just my examples from my life and from my own fears. Insert your own.

    • Ginger Masters says:

      I lost my husband of almost 30 years, and, this is exactly what I needed to read this morning. Thank you Jennifer

    • H.S. says:

      I'm with you, Riles, I lost my husband eight years ago, and am unable to have children due to a chromosomal condition. All that part did is bring up how alone I am and how much I crave a real hug in the mornings, but can't have one.

      I will also say that I completely disagree with the advice to not do a bucket list. Yes, every day should be lived to its fullest, but you'll never do those things you dream of deep in your heart if you don't plan them, and that starts with the bucket list. Writing it down makes it real.

  3. emjay says:

    Amazing! (As always Jennifer.) Thank you for your kind and wise words.

  4. Heidi says:

    Best writing and wisdom I have experienced in a long time. Thank you deeply.

  5. akosiross says:

    Hi Jennifer. Thank you for a wonderful article. Beautifully written and I can certainly relate to this. Struggles are part of life – just like happiness – we cannot avoid it. I am also in a difficult situation right now and I am trying to be at my best even if I am not. This too shall pass – is what i keep telling to myself. Yes, it is okay to feel down sometimes.. to feel like crying sometimes.. there are also moments of happiness. Sometimes it a bit hard to relay to someone how you feel – if you, yourself is uncertain of how you feel. These are the words that I need – unsolicited advise from someone whom I dont really know personally and yet, I can relate to your written piece. Thanks for sharing this to your reader!

  6. Laura L says:

    Finally a decent (more than decent in fact) article from elephant journal. Love love love this. Thank you!

  7. Marian says:

    We can't be reminded often enough to be awake to our experiences – thanks so much for sharing real ways to embrace what is. Great writing-must share!

  8. pancakeslim says:

    Thank you.
    This got me moving this grey, grey morning.
    Love and more love, thats all there is. Just keep throwing love at it, whatever it is.

  9. scoochdaily says:

    Jennifer,

    This post resonated so well and reminded me to "be a phoenix not a lemming". Plus I was happy to validate that the 20 minutes it takes me to walk my daughter to school is, in fact, a form of Yoga! Hooray!

    Well done.

    Licia Morelli

  10. Erin says:

    Truly, I already live this way -but I really enjoyed reading this. Well written, thoughtful, expressive and emotional. Excellent! Thanks Mrs. White!

  11. ahsamon says:

    Just what I needed to read. Thank you for sharing!

  12. envisionhealing says:

    Your articles are always so uplifting and positive! Just the kind of voice we need to hear more of (and be for ourselves). Kudos once again!

  13. sandtoesha says:

    Thank you, great advice :)

  14. Awesome it's like how to make life so easy. Well done great advice.

  15. chand says:

    Beautifully written. Thank you. This feels like a precious gift.

  16. nyleenlacy says:

    I really love this, for many reasons, mostly because it is what I need to hear today. But thank you especially for your thoughts on bucket lists. I dislike them too. You helped put some more words to my instincts–maybe I will come up with a complete understanding of it someday.

  17. Lace says:

    thank you for such a great article. As a yoga instructor I too encourage folks to "do yoga" BUT also like you explain yoga consist of many different approaches. Simply sitting is a form of yoga -:) again – thank you for reminding us that we are humans first dealing with issues on a daily basis, atlas sometimes a hourly basis!!! namaste

  18. dianamaria says:

    This was a really lovely article.

  19. Meandmyheart. says:

    THANK YOU. This was meant for me today. I'm on one-two kind of almost to three… in a very very intense way as I finally learn to release control over my closed down heart and it's godbyes to shallow and easy, rather comfortable encounters that seem safe but are so empty, and I am. tired. of empty. I'm off to more beautiful lands but it does hurt, and stings and tears will flow as I learn to feel and trust again. Your words are beautiful, and perfect.

  20. Jamie Khoo says:

    This is just magical, and oh so full of truth, every word.

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