Do you long for a greater sense of well-being -- that state of peace and happiness where all's right with the world? Who doesn't, right? Well, talking and sharing about how to pull this off is a natural step forward from last week's blog post, in which I asked the question: "How Can We Remember What Really Matters?"
I've discovered six paths that lead to well-being -- some work instantaneously and some generate a much more lasting result. This week, I'll focus on the ones that work instantly. While I can't claim to wander around in a constant state of "om"-like peace, I've come a long way from the stressed-out, frustrated, distracted, crazy busy little bee that I used to be.
One thing I know for sure at this stage of my life is that the source of well-being is remembering what matters most. Yet in our busy world, those things can suffer as a consequence of how work and all manner of projects (each with their pressure and deadlines) can almost force us to get our priorities wrong!
So, here's what I've learned about getting past these obstacles. These lessons have come from my striving to do so, learning from friends and clients, and from those who responded to my request last week to share what you've learned about remembering to do what really matters in this short life of ours.
Three Paths to Instant Well-Being
1. Express my love and kindness.
Reaching out to someone to bring happiness to them always lifts my spirits. When our motivation is right -- done with an authentic desire to be kind -- it's foolproof. Take a moment to do a random act of kindness -- at home, in the office, in the check-out line, wherever. There is always an opportunity right in front of us, and it usually takes so little time.
I'm sad when I remember the (too many) times I thought of someone whom I felt needed my help, but didn't stop what I was doing to reach out to them.
One reader, a dear friend in Italy, wrote to say, "Don't work too hard! I work a lot myself, but for me the most important thing is to be in peace and love with my children and husband, giving them all the time they need. Yesterday I was on Skype 62 minutes with my son Marco who lives in Santiago, Chile. All the rest had to wait!"
I find when I drop everything to express my love or do something kind that somehow all the lesser stuff gets done anyway. Nothing to do with time, really.
2. Stop, get out of my head, and be present.
When I was first told to get out of my head, I had absolutely no idea what that meant. Several days later, we were driving in the mountains. I was thinking about all I had to do when we got home, worrying about a problem I couldn't solve, and on and on. Then this phrase came back to me, and I let those thoughts go and looked at the mountains and the beauty right in front of me.
"In this present moment there is nothing but happiness, peace and well-being." -- Venerable Lama Tenzin Samphel
Here are two readers' responses:
Well, I have been in for the past 4 days with a rotten sinusitis and plan to stay in for now and make my appearance back into society on Friday. I have had time to relax, forget the rushing around & even sit in the afternoon & read. I do love to keep a busy schedule but laying low for 5 or so days is good for me -- I could have pushed myself but figured WHY?
When I realize that I don't have clarity on "What really matters most" I literally push myself away from my desk, close my eyes and ask God, "What would you have me do?" Sometimes I get something that wasn't on my list, but truly is the most important. Then I move forward, knowing in my heart that I am doing what matters most. The rest fades.
Both of these readers have succeeded in trusting their deep inner voice. When we give ourselves a quiet moment to be present to what it says, we know what to do.
3. Keep my promises.
Our lives are filled with promises we've made to others and promises we've made to ourselves. Key among them are the inherent promises we make as a spouse, parent, child, leader, employee, member of a church and so on. Keeping these promises is doing what really matters -- simple as that.
One friend responded to last week's question by sharing about his nephew, who with his wife, are parents of small children, yet feeling compelled to work long hours.
Their computers are always on, their blackberry permanently stuck to their ear and more often than not they cut short family things to serve their bosses. They need the income to live where they live, pay school fees for their daughters, have the holidays, pay for the treats etc., so it's about the choices we make about what matters most.
What matters most to me is contributing to the success, happiness, and well-being of others. I've learned that keeping in shape for this job means I must start each day with my meditation practice, followed by some form of exercise. In 2013 I've been doing a much better job of keeping these particular promises to myself, and as a result life is much easier and more peaceful. Instant well-being.
Your Path Toward Greater Well-Being
The bottom line about well-being is that it comes to us automatically when our true motivation is to bring happiness, joy, and meaning into the lives of others -- in other words, doing what really matters. To get started:
- Choose one of these three paths to do this week. Make a note of that instruction and put it where you'll see it.
- At least once a day, do what it says.
- Keep track of what you do and what happens as a result.
Please do this -- just reading about well-being makes little difference compared to taking action.
I'd love to hear from you about what happens and/or your thoughts about creating more well-being in your life. Enter your comments and answers below this article, or write to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With much love,
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