“The more tranquil a [wo]man becomes, the greater is [her] success, [her] influence, [her] power for good. Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom.” – James Allen
Back at the start of 2015, I posted the idea of getting back to simple, sharing 22 ways to welcome simple habits back into the everyday routine. With much of the ideas on the list, they were reminders, ways of living that we most likely know bring our lives more contentment, but with the hustle and bustle of it all we sometimes let our priorities and our approach to life get off track.
As I have been settling into my life here in Bend, now having lived here just over a year, I am more able to reflect, assess and determine which manners of living serve me and living simply luxuriously well and which do not. Recently, I was asked the question about how my summer went, and I shared something with them that I perhaps had never vocalized even to myself before, but it was a powerful truth to discover: for the first time, I enjoyed staying in my hometown which is now Bend during the summer months, as I truly feel it is my home, and I enjoy being home. This feeling of a found home is the first time I have ever felt this about any place in my adult-life.
Such a simple, but profound realization has brought me much tranquility. And in reveling in this tranquility, I quickly realized, this is the state I needed more of in my life on a regular basis. Now this is not to say we must wait until we find our “home” before we can welcome tranquility into our lives, no, absolutely not. It just happened, that for me, it was how the lesson finally was learned by the student. I’ve always needed and, to be truthful, been able or at least capable of finding how to be more tranquil, I just didn’t make it a priority because there was some place I needed to work toward arriving at.
The timing of this post is purely purposeful because whether you have children or not, are a teacher or not, work or are retired, schedules begin to change when the fall (or spring!) season arrives. And while 10-12 weeks of a more leisurely pace helps to instate better habits and routines, when the busier schedule is upon us, it is imperative that we are clear about how we are going to continue to welcome tranquility and calm into our lives. Because the truth is, we need it. As was shared in last week’s episode of the podcast and here on the blog, the balance of acute stress and restful respite is necessary each day. The key is knowing how.
How to welcome tranquility into your everyday routine:
1. Spend time with positive people.
People who are calm and rational.
2. Stop spending time, reaching out to people who can’t give you what you need.
On the flipside from #1 is breaking the habit of reaching out to people who we wish could bring us happiness, who if only they would change a little would make our lives all the happier. The hard truth is that they will not change simply because we want them to, and whether or not they attempt to is completely out of our control. When we reach out to these people, we only bring more stress and agony into our lives, but the good news is we were the ones who initiated, and therefore, we can be the ones to choose not to do it again. A recently released study conducted by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) revealed that while healthy social connections have a strong influence on the happiness of our lives, they are “outweighed by the adverse effects of strained relationships.” Choose the people you spend time with, choose to be intimate with wisely because they have a significant influence over the quality of your life.
3. Find time to meditate or practice mindfulness every day, no matter how much or little.
4. Don’t react (actions or words) immediately in stressful, chaotic or unexpected situations.
Pause for an hour, a day, a weekend, until the emotions have subsided and you are thinking clearly. Don’t let others rush you to speak, act or involve yourself.
5. Set and maintain clear boundaries.
The hardest boundaries to maintain will be with those who don’t want to respect them. These people will attempt to make you feel guilty or shame you for saying “no”, not involving yourself, etc. Their reaction is all the more evidence that you need a boundary with these people. Good for you. Even if nobody else close to you understands, know that I do. Respect your self-worth, your feelings, your life’s journey, and thereby protect the tranquility you need in your everyday life. If they drain the placid tone you want in your life simply by being themselves, their attitude, their words, their behavior, place a boundary. In smaller, more minor situations, if asked to do something that you aren’t sure you want to do, simply say, I’ll have to think about it or check my schedule, but I will get back to you. This will give you time to determine if you need to protect your energy as your schedule may be getting too full, etc.
Whether it is what people want or do not want, be you, express you. Do so tactfully, with decorum, but the result of introducing a false self to the world will eventually build up so that you aren’t able to relax with others. And even when you are alone, you may stew over who you are trying to be. They can like it or not, they can take it or leave it, but by being authentic, you are investing in a life of tranquility.
7. Find time to be with nature regularly. For me, it’s water. Perhaps for you, it is the palm trees and sand or simply the sun. However you find it, step outside and soak it in.
8. Be silent.
After reading this article, I discovered that epidemiologists have proven that there is a correlation between high blood pressure and chronic sources of noise. Perhaps the noise you are around isn’t chronic, but it highlights the power of noise on our beings. It’s not good. At least not regularly or consistently. And it is impossible to be calm when everything around us is cacophonous.
“The fruit of silence is tranquility.”– Arabian Proverb
9. Pinpoint your hobbies.
Maybe you can easily list them right now, or maybe you are still exploring. Either way keep diving into the journey of hobby exploration and enjoyment – whatever dismisses the observance of time and grabs your full attention. Enjoy immersing yourself in your hobbies regularly.
10. Feel productive each day.
A few days ago in the weekly This & That I shared this article about the “100-Year-Old To-Do List Hack that Still Works Like a Charm“. After giving it a try, I can see why it is effective. Similar to how Franklin-Covey structures their planning pages, the idea is to list 6 things you want to accomplish tomorrow. Put them in order of importance. Then, when you wake up the next day, focus solely on the top item until it is complete. Once complete, move on the next. Any uncompleted items for the day will move to the top of the list tomorrow, but the key is only have six (or fewer), AND to always put them in order of importance. This past August I have been working on putting TSLL book into audio format for Audible. And so it was just this past weekend, that I put “Finish editing and uploading audio book” at the top of my list. Upon stepping into my office, it was the first and only thing I focused on until it was done, and once it was done, the rest of my day I felt exhilarated and much more able to relax and be present.
11. Give yourself a day without a “have-to” list.
This doesn’t mean you have to lay on the couch or stay in bed the entire day. What it means is that you give yourself the freedom to do whatever you want. No have-tos. No feeling bad if you don’t get something done. Just relax, lose track of time, wander, nap, tinker, play, follow where your curiosities lead.
12. Incorporate a one-week/month “no-spending” practice.
At first glance, this practice may sound counter-intuitive, but what I have found, as I shared last month when I introduced this idea in great detail, was that knowing you can’t spend for an entire week relieves the stress of making purchases, perhaps purchases that may incur more debt or stress or responsibilities, and gives you permission to slow down. If you have your spending well under control, this most likely won’t make much of a difference, but sometimes just by putting up an absolute decision, removes the stress of having to make a decision at all, and that is liberating. It slows us down, it nudges us to do what truly is fulfilling and not what is just a quick fix.
13. Give without expectation.
Each of us will give as we can and how we can based on personality, level of comfort and availability of time, energy and/or money. But when we know we’ve contributed in a way that is suitable to us (nobody else can determine this for us), we bring into our lives tranquility. Observe what those you care about would appreciate, what would make them feel loved, known and heard. Let the answers to these questions guide you as you decide how to give. As the Dalai Lama states, “The greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being.”
14. Find something to be grateful for every day.
A habit I have found to alleviate any residuals of stress at the end of the day, make sense of questions I may still have or simply be a calming end to the day and signal to my mind that it is time to start thinking about falling asleep is to take out my journal and at the bear minimum list what I am grateful for from that particular day. If I have more energy, I will write about my day and work my thoughts out, but at least, I share what I am grateful for. It never ceases to amaze me how powerful this small activity is to right my mind before I go to sleep and squelch unnecessary worries.
The tranquility we seek, the calm we want in our lives, is possible to incorporate into each and every day of our lives. It simply needs to be a conscious choice. Once we put into place habits that protect our lives from tranquility-smashers, we hardly need to even think about it. Most likely your life is already full of amazing everyday moments and rituals that bring a calm and peace of mind, but for those moments when we just can’t figure out why it isn’t working, go back and check this list, perhaps one or two of these habits just needs to be polished up a bit.
Here’s to getting back to calm and may it bring a more fulfilling life than we ever knew was possible.
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~Dinner with Edward: A Story of an Unexpected Friendship by Isabel Vincent
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Image: click here for the recipe of Cardamom Coffee as seen at the top of the post