Begin 2024 with a New Appreciation of your Life
Practising mindfulness in daily life shows us many things about how to find wellbeing – here are my top two:
- Mindfulness doesn’t have to be time consuming
- You don’t have to have a perfect life to experience wellbeing
Note the difference between these two experiences:
I’m drinking a cup of tea, feeling rushed, I hardly notice I’m drinking it. I’m thinking about all the things I need to get done and feel restless so I get on with things on the computer while drinking.
I’m drinking a cup of tea, cupping the warm mug in my hands, watching the steam swirl upwards catching a shaft of sunlight. All of a sudden I feel an uplifting sense of well-being bubbling up from inside me.
Think about it – where did that well-being come from? Did it come from having a ‘perfect’ life? Did it come from feeling free of stress or free of health, family, work, money or world concerns? Did it come from a regular mindfulness practice sitting on a cushion for 45 minutes a day? No. It came from taking a pause, stopping multi-tasking, appreciating a simple pleasure and opening up to the beauty in the world around me in the moment.
This is the power of mindfulness in daily life. Apply the same principle to your commute to work, your dog walk, to housework, the school run, exercise, driving, queuing in the supermarket, brushing your teeth… and think how many opportunities there are every day to be mindful in the midst of life. Then imagine what would happen if we applied this to our relationships with our partner, children, parents, friends.
Appreciation is the extra magic ingredient which catalyses a feeling of wellbeing (see below for lots of research studies that back this up). When I was practising appreciation this morning, I was aware of some anxiety in my chest and belly, I also noticed a slight headache AND I also felt a rise of wellbeing. Perhaps there are times when a different practice is needed (when suffering is very front and centre), but on the average days there’s a fork in the road that’s available to us in every moment. We can remain lost in autopilot or we can be present and savour what life is offering us right now.
We spend so much of our lives missing our life! And then we regret this at the end. We reject the life we have in subtle constant ways, striving and leaning forward into a receding perfect future which we’ll surely arrive at soon enough, we believe.
Begin 2024 with a mindful revolution! Choose presence and appreciation of your life as it is, right now, in all its messy loveliness!
Research studies on the benefits of appreciation, savouring and gratitude for wellbeing:
Boosts the immune system – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1693417/pdf/15347530.pdf and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4927423/
Improves mental health – https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/sbp/sbp/2003/00000031/00000005/art00001
Improved relationships – https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2010-10257-015
Increased optimism – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6545271/ and https://whish.stanford.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/GratitudeArticle.pdf and https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13607863.2018.1471585