Flourishing This Year: Part 2
Previously, I introduced three daily commitments I have resolved to practice this year. I am sharing them as the ‘daily three.’ Today I expand upon these commitments and the role they play in flourishing.
The Daily Three
1. Forgiveness of Everything and Everyone My Mind Wants To Judge
In our last article, I discussed the intention behind this first of the daily three. Repeated studies, as well as common sense, argue that forgiveness is freedom. Holding on to anger, hatred, judgment, and worry are all prisons of the mind’s creation. To free ourselves of that, we have the option of letting go of our judgments of others.
There is no mandate to do this, of course. The daily intention to forgive others allows us to cease bringing the past into our present lives. Whether yesterday, last week, or decades ago, the ‘holding on to our judgments and anger toward others and past events leaves us in bondage to that past.
To causally say, ‘Oh, just let it go,’ is relatively worthless. We all know that.
However, to be deeply committed to the path of forgiveness is to choose a path of freedom. Please revisit the discussion from last week to consider the options for bringing this to life.
2. Expand Gratitude With Repeatable Practices
While many practices can help us to flourish, few are as powerful as gratitude. Study after study points to significant positive benefits that flow from the regular practice of gratitude. Again, many will read this, and causally suggest,
“Oh, I know that already.”
But in reality, unless we are practicing gratitude consistently, we don’t know it. It is the consistent experience of gratitude that brings the change.
Having the experience of gratitude is incompatible with the mind’s tendency to resist, judge, and worry. We cannot hold two ‘psychological states at the same time, and thus the more we experience gratitude, the more we find ease and happiness.
The Flourishing Project at Harvard has found several simple ways to bring gratitude into our lives in ways that change how we perceive our lives. One of the most workable strategies is to set aside ten minutes a week to write down five things in life that we are grateful for. It is essential to write it down and take a few moments to have the emotional experience of gratitude for those circumstances, events, or people in our lives. Keeping the gratitude notes out to review every day accentuates the impact of this practice.
Another simple practice is to make sure that we express gratitude regularly. Of course, it’s great to begin this practice with those we love. We can expand our experience of gratitude by taking every opportunity to express appreciation to those we encounter in daily life. Noticing a great smile, sweet words while checking out, or kindness from customer service on the phone…all present opportunities to share a moment of gratitude.
We can extend this with the practice of savoring these great moments. We can savor a moment just like we can savor a good meal. We can return to think about the moment, consider all the ways the moment serves us, and dig deeper into the emotional sense of enjoyment. This savoring practice helps with happiness and satisfaction in life.
3. Each Day Practice Ten Minutes of Finding Your Home Base
We are constantly being entertained, informed, and engaged. This is the reality of our digital age, as our lives are not just work and family. But now, every moment is filled with phones, computers, and limitless options for entertainment.
Amidst all the engagement of our brains, we have unintentionally created minds that now seek constant entertainment. Silence is abhorred, and yet we know that this inner quietness is a key to happiness and contentment.
So what is ‘home base?’ It is a state of mind that feels right to us. It is comforting, quiet, and kind towards us. Home base is like home, a place we can return to for solace, peace of mind, and escape from stress.
Yet, this inner home base has to be built, protected, and taken care of just as we take care of our own homes. If we don’t nurture familiarity and build our relationship with this state of mind, we won’t be able to find it in times of stress or upset. When we want it most, we will be wondering why we can’t calm ourselves down.
The secret is straightforward: Build your home base every day, with ten minutes of intentional breathing and personal silence. Practic using your breath as your focus, and learn about Heart Rate Variability Breathing is a simple way to quiet the body and calm the mind. Ignore thoughts that suggest you should do something else or that this whole idea is silliness. The mind’s job, it seems, is to preserve the habits we have, whether good habits or bad.
Thus, we must learn to ignore distracting thoughts and ideas and continue to focus on our breathing and inner silence.
Of course, there is a myriad of other ways to nurture your own personal home base through various meditative practices. The method does not matter. Just choose one, and stick with it so that you come to know the state of calm that you can call your ‘home base.’ Once there, a home base can be called upon, even in the worst of times, to bring you calm and ease.
Think of this as a muscle. If you work it regularly, that muscle will be there when you need it. Ignore the muscle for years, and you will find it lacking when you need it most.
Reminder: Why Flourish?
Flourishing is about psychological well-being. It’s not about external goals and pushing toward goal attainment to be happy.
Research confirms that the happier and more grateful you are in life, the more successful and content you become.
Thus, happiness does not come from success. It’s the other way around. We become happy and content with life, and then we grow into success with happiness already in hand.
These practices help with the state of well-being that seems to more easefully produce satisfying success. Thus, please consider applying the daily three, and notice what 30 days will do to transform your life.