This article is offered in partnership with Meditation Studio—an Elephant Mindful Partner. They’re dedicated to helping us untangle our minds by making meditation more accessible, and we’re honored to share their work with you. ~ ed.
“Great oaks from little acorns grow.” ~ 14th century English proverb
I went to a workshop a while back and something the speaker said really stuck with me.
“If we want to be happier and more fulfilled in our lives, we need to forget the big picture for a minute and start with the details—the small, everyday choices we make. We need to consciously choose joy in a thousand tiny ways.”
The seeds for a more authentic, inspired, joyful life are found in our everyday actions.
So, if 2018 knocked you on your ass (raises hand), here’s a little “how to” for grounding, healing, and making room for more joy in 2019.
“When you’re flat on your ass there’s no place else to go but up.” ~ Kristen Noel
1. Get quiet.
Before we can make change, we’ve gotta meet ourselves where we’re at. Meditation is the tool that helps us do that.
There’s so much noise in our lives—inside our monkey minds, and outside in the world—that it’s best to start with just getting quiet and simply listening. If we’re looking to cultivate something great in our lives then, like that tiny acorn, we gotta go to ground…and just sit for a bit.
Only once we invite more space and stillness into our heads and our hearts can we start to recognize those habitual patterns that are keeping us stuck. Then we can figure out the first small steps we can take every day to change them.
Getting quiet is harder than it seems, and a little guidance along the way is really helpful. My current go-to is Meditation Studio‘s new Motivation Collection. Meditations like “Awake in Abundance,” “New Beginnings,” and “Open to Possibility” are helping me to get my mind, heart, and attitude ready to accept all of the good things to come.
*New users get a free meditation + 30% off for a year until Feb 7th!
2. Ignore the “yeah, buts.”
Most of us stay too busy to connect with what our bodies and souls are trying to tell us. A lot of the time, when we finally do manage to get quiet, we realize we already know what we need…but the real wisdom is in listening to it. And the true courage is in not listening to the excuses we come up with that block our joy.
Most of the time we don’t even know we’re blocking ourselves until we get quiet enough. No matter how long I practice meditation, I’m always surprised (and slightly annoyed, I’ll admit) by the unhelpful self-talk that flies around in my head. “Boost Your Impulse Control,” and “Stop and Reset” are two more meditations from the same Meditation Studio app collection that empower me to recognize those unhelpful impulses and thought-trains, and reset them, as many times as I need to.
When I practice regularly, I find I can spot these thoughts quicker and let them go easier. And the more I practice doing this, the more clearly I can hear the wise inner voice underneath all the noise.
“The most difficult times for many of us are the ones we give ourselves.”
~ Pema Chödrön
3. Acknowledge your choice.
Knowing that (most of the time) we can choose how we feel, that we can choose to “happen to life” instead of just letting life happen to us is one of the most liberating truths. Knowing that we can’t control everything, but we can choose how we’re going to show up each day has been a total game-changer for me.
“Getting Clear on Intention” from Meditation Studio‘s Motivation Collection helps me to recognize when I’m actually intending to be miserable, and how I can choose intentions that open me to more joy, even when things may be imperfect. Because being your most joyful self doesn’t mean you have to be perfect. No one is!
Acknowledging when we’re not feeling good, and being honest with ourselves and others about that empowers us and those around us. So share your messy, imperfect, vulnerable self! Then, when you’re feeling stronger, we can move forward more freely.
4. Put away the self-help books.
While there is a time and a place for that great book, inspirational workshop, or life coaching session, we don’t actually need those things to know what we really need…all we have to do is get quiet enough to hear our own inner wisdom.
Get honest with yourself, ask the right questions, and know that you can be brave, taking one small step at a time to initiate a change. You can always give yourself permission to course correct, to change your mind. Simply reset, let go of your fear and limiting beliefs, and move forward, step by step.
Always be open to possibility. Explore what might be holding you back and what might be preventing you from living vibrantly and with purpose and passion.
5. Reinvent yourself, every day.
“If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything, it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few. ” ~
This fixed idea we have of who we are and what we’re capable of is a fantasy, a complete construction shaped with a mixture of other people’s ideas about us and our own self-talk. If we can truly let it sink in that our identity is something much bigger and more fluid than that, our world suddenly expands and anything becomes possible.
If we greet each day with a “beginner’s mind”—fresh eyes and a sense of complete openness to what may arise—we make more space for more joy and wonder. Reinventing ourselves is like the gift from the gods. In our small and big moments, we are not pigeon-holed by anything, we get to decide…
In the Meditation Studio podcast episode below, Kristen Noel, writer, speaker, and founding editor of Best Self magazine, shares that when her feet hit the floor each morning she asks herself, How am I going to greet the day? What am I grateful for? and How do I want to show up today? Then, if she notices that she’s gotten up on the wrong side of the bed, she just gets back into bed and starts over.
6. Take stock, every day.
At the end of the day, ask yourself, Did I take the time to feed myself with the stuff that really matters? Busy-ness is a form of self-medication and we all desperately need to stop more often and refill the coffers, to take care of ourselves.
Of course, we need to have asked ourselves in the first place, What brings me pleasure? What do I love to do? And these answers may change over time. All we need to do is stay open and quiet enough to hear the answers. And be brave enough to act on them.
Living your most joyful life always comes back to getting still, getting real with what’s going on, being honest with yourself.
Are you in a job that sucks your soul? Are you in a relationship with a person who doesn’t see you? Are you just terrified about your financial situation? What’s actually happening here?
We can’t always just toss it all upside down, but we can be brave and take one step, do one small thing to initiate change. We can stop sleepwalking through our lives and wake up so we can start doing more of the things we dream of and commit to one small act a day to move toward them.
Journaling is a good tool for taking stock: note down what felt good, what didn’t feel good about your day. What could you do tomorrow—big or small—to shift it? And what scares you about that change? What one little thing could you be brave enough to do on behalf of yourself?
I like to pair this self-reflection with meditations like “Create Your Life,” and “Open to Possibility” from Meditation Studio’s Motivation Collection.
7. Embrace your imperfect, messy, beautiful self.
“There’s no such thing as happily ever after, it’s messily ever after.”
~ Kristen Noel
It’s important to remember the difference between being conscious of our own behaviour and failings, and beating ourselves up for them. To remember that living a joyful life doesn’t mean living a perfect life. That having a meditation practice doesn’t mean your mind is suddenly going to stop being squiggly, noisy, and frenetic.
The power of meditation is in meeting ourselves just as we are, and where we are. Finding stillness doesn’t equal finding perfection, and apps like Meditation Studio are there like support staff to help us bring more consciousness into our lives.
Once we become aware, we realize there are road signs everywhere: our bodies tell us things, our intuitive selves are always there, quietly guiding us, and joy is right there within us, no matter what our circumstances. We’ve just been getting in our own way all along.
So let’s get out of our own way in 2019. Let’s look what we’re afraid of in the eye. Let’s figure out what’s preventing us from living vibrantly, with purpose and passion—the way we’re meant to live.
It all starts with spending a little time in stillness.
*New users get a free meditation + 30% off for a year until Feb 7th!