A big realization for me recently was that in trying to do things differently than I have been – BETTER than I have been – it may not be about doing anything that looks radically different, but about refocusing my intent as I do these same things.
I was recently doing that New Year thing of looking ahead and setting my sights on dreams big and small, and I was asked what I do to acknowledge my accomplishments as they happen. Apart from grinning a big grin at that initial excitement and feeling of pride for having completed something of my own, I don’t tend to do much but launch myself into the next project, instantly pushing myself toward some new goal.
I now resolve to consciously CELEBRATE my accomplishments. How? By simply having that intent as I do my everyday things. My version of a celebration isn’t necessarily a wild party. I am a quiet creature much more often than I am a loud creature. That’s just the kind of animal I am. And so with this intention, and with the basic knowledge that I must eat and sleep daily, that I bathe, and when able, prefer to relax in the evenings before bed, I would like to turn each of these daily activities into a celebration.
These things could be (and should be!) celebrated simply for what they are, every day – this is an aspect of mindfulness. What I’m writing of now is basically a nuanced version of this: a specific light cast on daily activities experienced mindfully.
So what do I mean by this?
I did a thing! Woo hoo! Now I can congratulate myself and say, “Great job, Candace – I’m really proud of you. I’m going to make you such a delicious, nourishing dinner, because gosh you deserve it.” And then do that, with celebratory intent, feeling the celebration in each moment of preparation and then in each joyful bite.
If you’re a busy bee, like I often am, notice that I haven’t added any extra time to my day. I am merely focusing on the present moment with intent to honour myself, and enjoying each experience, because not only do I deserve it, it is the birthright of each of you reading this. Feel alive. Notice your aliveness. Celebrate your aliveness.
Acknowledge your goodness. Pat yourself on the back for your positive actions. Be clear on your intention as you do, well, ideally anything and everything, and focus on that intention.
I can celebrate myself as I bathe: rather than rushing through the shampoo/conditioner/body soap/get out routine, notice how warm the water feels as you do your thing. Massage your scalp as you wash your hair. This doesn’t mean standing under the tap for 30 minutes while you drain the lake; it means refocusing and appreciating the little things as you do what you would typically be doing anyway. Notice details. Be aware of yourself and your surroundings. Enjoy yourself.
I can celebrate myself as I go to sleep: congratulating myself on a full day of accomplishments, large and small, and gently telling my mind that it can rest now (get that hamster off the wheel!) and giving myself permission to relax. Notice how comfy your bed is. Take a few minutes to clear your mind and breathe deeply. If you have time before sleeping, follow the most delicious evening routine you can craft for yourself. Snuggle up in bed with some bedtime tea and a good book, or meditate in fuzzy socks, or go for a leisurely walk on warm nights, or cuddle a furry friend, or play some lullabies on your favourite instrument, or take a bath with Epsom salts and lavender oil by candlelight. (Yeah, so I’m a romantic, so what?)
And then: the act of falling asleep. You might acknowledge that you are about to enter a space where dreaming is possible. Sometimes dreams are just a rehashing of the day’s events, or of your whole life, but sometimes there are insights to be gleaned. Sometimes there is magic. Why not approach this threshold with reverence, and be grateful that you are on the cusp of –just maybe – being admitted to something extraordinary?
Try to catch yourself in the act of mindlessness. I know I for one spend a lot of time there. And when I notice it, I will be shifting my intent to something more, well, intentional, and my current theme is celebration.
What is yours?
With what intent would you prefer to go through your daily actions?
How do you acknowledge your accomplishments, big and small?
You’ve done a thing! Way to go! Now go find your form of celebration and stay present for it.
Stay mindful, friends.