Life is in the Details

While browsing the internet I ran across the site, Action for Happiness, a movement for positive social change-bringing together people from all walks of life who want to play a part in creating a happier society for everyone.

One of the topics on the site is: “The 10 Keys to Happier Living”, and I’ve taken one of those topics and posted it here:

Notice the world around You

Ever felt there must be more to life? Well good news, there is! And it’s right here in front of us. We just need to stop and take notice. Learning to be more mindful and aware can do wonders for our well-being in all areas of life – like our walk to work, the way we eat or our relationships. It helps us get in tune with our feelings and stops us dwelling on the past or worrying about the future – so we get more out of the day-to-day.

Why take notice?

The key to taking notice is ‘mindfulness’. Mindfulness is often defined as “the state of being attentive to and aware of what is taking place in the present”. Two critical elements of mindfulness are that:

  • It is intentional (i.e. we are consciously doing it); and
  • We are accepting, rather than judging, of what we notice.

In other words, mindfulness is “openly experiencing what is there.” It is about having as full as possible awareness of what is around us – what we can see, hear, touch and taste. And what is happening inside – our thoughts and feelings. Crucially it is about observing all this but not getting caught up in thinking and worrying about what we are observing. It then gives us more control of what we decide to give our attention to.

A growing number of scientific studies are showing the benefits of mindfulness in many aspects of our lives including our physical and mental well-being, our relationships and our performance at school and at work. And it appears to have benefits for everyone, from children through to the elderly. One researcher even suggests that once learned, mindfulness has a ‘transmitting’ quality. Its benefits increase over time and with practice and can spread to many areas of our daily lives.

Yet mindfulness is something that, in today’s busy, multi-tasking world, few of us do naturally – but it’s something everyone can learn and benefit from. It’s simple, yet can feel hard until you learn how. That’s why it takes practice.

To read the complete article and to find more information on the action for happiness movement…go to:

*Image taken with my converted (infrared) camera.

Defining Moments

(Another post by Leo Babauta)

There is a tendency among productive people to try to make the best use of every single minute, from the minute they wake. I know because not too long ago I was one of these folks.

Got time on the train or plane? If you’re not doing work, maybe you can be enriching yourself by learning something.

Got time before a meeting starts? Organize your to-do list, send off some emails, write some notes on a project you’re working on.

Driving? Why not make some phone calls or tell Siri to add a bunch of stuff to your calendar? Why not listen to a self-help audiobook?

Watching TV with the family? You can also be answering emails, doing situps, stretching.

Having lunch with a friend? Maybe you can talk business to make it a productive meeting.

This is the mindset that we’re supposed to have. Every minute counts, because time’s a-wasting. The clock is ticking. The sands of the hourglass are spilling.

I used to feel this way, but now I see things a bit differently.

Is This What Life Is To Be?

It might seem smart and productive to not let a single minute go to waste (they’re precious, after all), but let’s take a step back to look at the big picture.

Is this what our lives are to be? A non-stop stream of productive tasks? A life-long work day? A computer program optimized for productivity and efficiency? A cog in a machine?

What about joy?

What about the sensory pleasure of lying in the grass with the sun shining on our closed eyes?

What about the beauty of a nap while on the train?

How about reading a novel for the sheer exhilaration of it, not to better yourself?

What about spending time with someone for the love of being with someone, of making a genuine human connection that is unencumbered by productive purpose, unburdened by goals.

What about freedom? Freedom from being tied to a job, from having to improve yourself every single minute, from the dreariness of never-ending work?

An Alternative

Killing time isn’t a sin — it’s a misnomer. We’ve framed the question entirely wrong. It’s not a matter of “killing” time, but of enjoying it.

If we ask ourselves instead, “How can I best enjoy this moment?”, then the entire proposition is re-framed.

Now we might spend this moment working if that work brings us joy.

But we might also spend it relaxing,

doing nothing,

feeling the breeze on the nape of our neck,

losing ourselves in conversation with a cherished friend,

snuggling under the covers with a lover.

This is life.

A life of joy, of wonderfulness.

*Another good read from Zenhabits – if you’re not a subscriber – you might want to check out what Leo has to say…