The Importance of Mindfulness

This last year has been quite a crazy one for everyone all over the world. Even though times are still pretty trying for most, it is very important to give a little time every day for some mindfulness. I truly never understood why this was so important until I was desperate to calm down. 2021 really hit everyone hard & to say I was stressed to the max is an understatement. I had also been dealing with some massive health issues, which in no way was a stress savior. Finally, one day when I was at my worst, I decided something had to be done differently. I read up about mindfulness & found little books about it at Barnes & Noble. Besides the fact that the books are absolutely adorable, they did have some valid points to help!

So what exactly is mindfulness? I found myself asking the same question, so don’t worry! It is simply taking a moment throughout the day to relax & breath. This can be done through meditating or just sitting peacefully in silence for a little. It is suggested to take about 10 minutes of nice relaxed breathing with your eyes closed. The purpose of doing this is to slow you down to relax & think clearly. What is truly important? Does dwelling on small thing & the past truly matter? Is becoming rich or famous really a way to a happy life? It gives you a chance to reflect on what matters. Mindfulness is supposed to bring you inner peace to stay focused on what is happening in the now, change our perceptions & to learn not to be discouraged. It also helps with anxiety, which is always a positive!

Sounds easy enough right? Well to be honest, it’s not that simple. The main struggle that I had is trying to remind myself to take a moment every day. Being a business owner, I find myself working nonstop & even skipping lunches or late through the evening. With my mind racing 100 miles a minute, it’s tough to remember something so simple. So I had to find a way that worked best for me. In the morning I start with a small 15 minute yoga session. This helps prepare me for the day ahead & get going. Before I start work I write down 3 things that I am grateful for at that moment. Of course I am always thankful for my family, boyfriend, doggies & such, but you have to look deeper. It can be hard to remember the good things when bad things happen, so each day is a little reminder of what is good. For example, when I was laid off due to COVID, I was so upset. I had to have an emergency surgery two weeks later & was mortified about everything going on. However, I was still very blessed. I was grateful that my mother was able to take time off & fly down from Washington to care for me after the surgery. I was grateful to have the ability to finally grow my clothing boutique. I was tremendously grateful for my puppy during those times, as she gave me more comfort than I could ever imagine.

The best way that I can describe mindfulness from my perspective, is bringing joy. The little things in life truly do matter a lot & mindfulness is recognizing the joy in your life. For instance, in one of my books it talks about getting rid of clutter. Too much can often be overwhelming. Taking a bath & really enjoying the warm water & scent of a candle. Going for a walk & taking the time to notice the details of flowers or the butterflies on them. As I said before, the little things.

If you start to struggle with ways to start or how to practice, I have two little books that I really enjoy, that have helped. One is The Little Book of Mindfulness, by Gilly Pickup & the other is 52 Lists for Happiness, by Moorea Seal. I will add an Amazon link to both at the bottom. One has some ways to practice mindfulness & little sayings to help. The other book is for writing weekly gratitude & happiness.

So remember to take a moment every day to be thankful, to bring joy & to relax your mind.

Practicing the Way of Positivity

Being positive is something that I find very easy to do. No, there is not a special overnight cure to thinking this way, but it is something that will truly pay off if you stick with it. I was not always a super positive person. Matter of fact, when I was much younger, I used to think negatively about everything. I didn’t solve this problem until I was in high school. I met some very kind people that were always happy and in a great mood! I loved this so much that I literally decided one day that I was no longer going to have a negative thought, but always keep positive ones. That is the first step.

Step One: You need to choose to be happy and positive. Sure certain actions can create a happy emotion, but it does not stick around forever. If you choose to be happy, then no matter the outcome, you will still be able to stay happy. For instance, when I first started college, I went to Eastern Washington University. I was attending to become an occupational therapist. After three months, I dropped out. I had gotten very ill and had lost interest in my subjects. Luckily I was able to get a refund, but being there was a positive experience. I learned that I did not want to join the medical field (I get too attached to patients), this college did not offer what I needed and we found out that I had major stomach ulcers due to energy drinks. It was my first taste into the real world on my own. I took this to move home, work full time, fix my stomach and figure out where I wanted to go in life. Oh, and be accepted to one of the top universities!

Step Two: You have to stick with it. There are times where life will hit you hard and you will want to be negative, but you cannot let that happen. You chose to stay positive. Think of where your life was and how you felt when you were not always positive, did you enjoy it? I sure didn’t. When you have a chance to be negative, you miss out on something that could potentially be a good thing. You also seem to worry a lot more. The best example I have for this is when my daddy had a heart attack. I was beyond upset and worried, but it turned out that it was a good thing that he had it. We were able to find out that his arteries in his heart were too small and not producing enough oxygen. At 45, he had open heart surgery and a triple bypass. How did I stay positive in this situation? I was very worried, but I knew that this surgery could make his life so much easier. Our family was very close that night of his surgery and the next morning I was right there by his bed at the hospital. He was able to recover faster than most and can now work out and hike without any breathing struggles.

Step Three: Always know that it could be worse. It does not matter the situation, something could always be worse. Just think about all of the tragic events in World War II or how lucky we are to live in a country with clean water. People have struggled through worse things than most of us ever have, but we rarely ever realize this. Whenever I feel a negative feeling coming, I think of these things. They make me humble right up and I realize how truly lucky I really am. My family has gone through a lot over the years, but the one person that sticks out to me the most with positivity is my aunt. She had a brain tumor that doctors thought she would die from. When they performed the surgery, they made a mistake and now she is legally blind, cannot taste, has walking troubles and can barely remember things. Her first month back home, she couldn’t even remember where the bathroom was and had to be escorted everywhere. This was over 10 years ago, but she never has once complained. Instead, she would always get excited about the progress that she would make. She would say, “It could be worse, I could be dead”.

Step Four: You have to train yourself to always pull the positive out of any situation. Like I said before, sometimes it can be very hard. However, there is always a positive way to look at something. Sometimes you can’t , such as instances of murder, but the purpose of this post is to show you how to stay positive daily. One of the easiest ways to see a positive is if something benefits a person. For instance, if you lose a race, someone else won, you should be happy for them. It could also mean that you just weren’t ready enough for it this time and you now know what to do. Or there is the fact that you were lucky to even be able to race in the first place. You just have to change a simple downer into a way it could benefit you or another.

Step Five: Relax. This is truly the final step in the process of keeping yourself positive. Sometimes you need to just sit down, relax, take a breather and think about a situation. This can really help with choosing a positive outcome. I know that I have had problems in the past with jumping straight to a negative thought or response, but slowing down can help stop this. This will give you the opportunity to think about what positive you can pull out of the situation. It will also give you the chance to have that small bit of negativity and then get rid of it so that you can focus on your positive thoughts. The best example that I have for this step is when I failed my first college class. I was insanely upset and I knew that my daddy would be very disappointed in me. I sat down and cried in my car for a few minutes and eventually calmed down. I tried to think, what could be positive about failing? It was chemistry class that I took because I needed it to become an occupational therapist. I was able to calculate credits and realized that I did not need this to graduate with my associate’s! I also did not pay for this class because it was in the running start program. So was it good that I failed? No, but at least it would not have any negative affect on me throughout the rest of my college career.

I have been practicing these five steps for many years now and I am proud to say that I am always positive. People will tell me that they love to be around me and find it refreshing how I have such a positive outlook on life. It was a struggle for me at first, but now it is a piece of cake. Here’s a piece of hope for you to stay positive. I have a chemical imbalance, sort of like a bipolar disorder. Medicine can only do so much to help, so I had to teach myself to handle mood swings. I had to force myself to be positive in situations where I would normally lose it. Just think, if I was able to do this, then I am sure that you can too!

Stay positive everyone!