True confession: When I first read The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying about a decade ago, I purposefully avoided reading Sogyal Rinpoche's passages on death. I thought they didn't apply to me and that I was somehow exempt! Then, a few years ago, my father was on his deathbed. I scrambled for my copy of the book, intuiting its pages might help me better prepare for the shock of his passing. They did, and then some. Rinpoche shared many ideas that still help me improve how I live today.
In particular, Rinpoche wrote about our human tendency to be in denial about death; thereby, we weren't living our most fulfilling, happiest lives. He warned how we should not become "unconscious living corpses." Meaning? If we aren't careful, we can sleepwalk through our time here on this planet, avoiding feeling our deepest feelings and not risking going after our truest heart's desires, because we're busying our days with total nonsense. Rinpoche called this tendency "active laziness" -- the need to compulsively cram our lives with a myriad of unimportant activities, leaving little time to tend to our hearts and spirits.
Unfortunately, this concept of "active laziness" resonated with me when I first read those words. Later, when I shared this concept with friends, they also confessed they might be suspect for being "actively lazy," as they had a tendency to overemphasize the importance of creating a "successful" life, which often got in their way of creating a "happy" life.
Personally, I know how challenging it can be to find free time in today's uber-busy, espresso-chugging world to tend to our spirits, to nourish our souls. In fact, we should probably rename "free time" as "priceless time" because, sure, yes, it is free -- but more so, it is rare and precious!
Recently I shared in a blog here on HuffPost how due to our world's growing time scarcity, many folks are now turning to inspirational posters on Facebook and Pinterest for speedy quickie attitude makeovers -- because it's challenging to find time to sit down and read a text-dense self help book to pick up our moods.
Be honest. Are you being "actively lazy" and cramming your life with so much on your "to-do" list you're not giving yourself time to just be -- and in particular, giving yourself time to just be happy?
If you feel you'd like to take more time to tend to your spirit but don't know where and how to find the time, here are some ideas for how to find more time in your day to enjoy your day.
1. Turn your "To-Do List" into a "What Matters Most" to-do list.
Edit down your to-do list to a "what matters most" to-do list by tapping into The Pareto Principle, an 80/20 rule that says 20 percent of your habits and effort leads to 80 percent of results and enjoyment. Every time you look at your to-do list of responsibilities, ask yourself which actions really are needed, and which are mere "active laziness clutter." Take some time to write out your "Top 10 What Matters Most" list, and keep this in your wallet to look at regularly. This list could include: spend more time with loved ones, do signature strengths, speak truthfully and give generously.
2. Shrink your negativity into "nuggetivity."
Only allow yourself to think negative thoughts and/or complain about anything for three minutes, three times a day. Not only will you save many hours wasted on negative thinking and whining, you'll also find when you stop spending energy on worry, fear and complaining, you're better able to stay positively focused on finding solutions and more likely to attract positive results. The main reason why hindsight comes with 20/20 vision is that when everything is done, you're no longer distracted by negative, fearful emotions. Removing this emotional static is like getting cable hookup. Not only is the picture of your life clearer, but you have more viewing options. The more perspectives you have, the better a shot you have at finding the right path to getting what you want and locating your misplaced miracle.
3. Stop wasting time wanting what others have.
Psychologist Dan Gilbert calls this poisonous envy "stepping on the Hedonic Treadmill," where you're always looking at what others have, seeking more and more, spinning your wheels and getting no life satisfaction. The grass is always greener on the other side until you get there and see it's AstroTurf. Symbols are never reality. Someone might have amassed material success and fame, but that doesn't mean they're happy. So, don't go judging a person's life by the cover. You can always save a lot of time in your day by making sure you're staying on your true path.
4. Stop shopping, shopping, shopping. Instead simplify, simplify, simplify!
Before you purchase anything, press the pause button and ask yourself if you really need this new thing. Do you truly love it, or simply like it? Will it enhance your life or simply clutter your home and stuff up on your closet? Not only will shopping less save you time and money, it will create a positive ripple effect throughout your life. You'll soon find that your discerning lens on shopping will become a discerning lens you bring into other areas of your life, like the food you allow into your mouth and the people you let into your life.
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Karen Salmansohn is a best selling author and designer -- with more than 1 million books sold -- known for creating self help for people who wouldn't be caught dead doing self help and founder of www.notsalmon.com, one of the U.S.'s leading websites for inspiration. Her newest book, INSTANT HAPPY, from Random House, is filled with her inspirational posters which double duty as "pattern-interrupts" -- helping to stop a train of negative thoughts in its tracks! http://amzn.to/Uvr6vc