As adults we are often busy multi-tasking, doing many things at one time. We talk on the phone while checking our emails and watching TV. While making dinner we update our status on Facebook and help the kids with their homework. Our attention is pulled in every direction but we give our full attention to nothing.
“Multi-tasking allows us to screw up two things at once.” Author unknown.
Not only do we harm ourselves with the stress of trying to do too much at once, our kids mimic our behavior. Kids text their friends while doing their homework and watching TV. They are shuttled from school to soccer games to the fast food drive thru. In addition to all that stress, with recent mass shootings and gun violence, kids have to be concerned about their safety. There’s no longer such a thing as a “carefree childhood.”
That’s why it’s important for us to help our children find some quiet and peace in their busy lives. Meditation and mindfulness have been found to help improve memory, attention spans, and decision making while lessening mood disorders and depression. Even simple breath-awareness exercises have been found to improve kids’ social skills, increase their sense of calmness, and lead to better sleep.
Here are some simple techniques to help your kids find mindfulness throughout their day:
o They can focus on their breathing, emotions, thoughts, or body sensations.
- There are different things your children can focus their attention on.
o A piece of food such as popcorn or raisin incorporates the sense of smell. o Find something that keeps their interest such as a toy, picture, or something in nature.
- Your children can use their five senses to focus on everyday objects.
o They can even count their breaths quietly.
- Have your children close their eyes and concentrate on their breathing, in and out.
Even simple activities like going for a hike or walk, leaving technology behind, can help brings some peace and quiet to you and your children’s lives. Most of all, set the example, focus your attention to one task at a time, practice mindfulness and meditation, and breathe.
There are lots of things that we do that bring us pleasure: Sex, eating, watching TV, shopping, drinking, etc. But pleasure is fleeting; when the activity ends so does the pleasure.
“Spending our time doing what we please may bring momentary pleasure, but it will not bring us true and lasting joy. We cannot become great artists or great actors of life-we cannot become great human beings. Literature, music and drama are all to be found in our activities for faith-in our prayers, our challenges to develop ourselves through (religious) activities and our efforts to educate others. All value is encompassed in these activities. This is the profound realm of Buddhism.” Daisaku Ikeda, President, SGI.
On the other hand if we engage in noble activities such as helping others, pursuing the humanities, or creating a greater good then we are filled with an inextinguishable happiness. True happiness comes when we better ourselves or the lives of others. There is satisfaction in the things that make us and others happy.
Work, school, family, relationships, kids’ soccer, dance class, gym workouts, traffic jams, taxes, church, etc., etc. –how to you find balance with so much on your plate?
“The conservation of energy depends upon getting your personality speed synchronized with the rate of God’s movement. God is in you. If you are going at one rate and God at another, you are tearing yourself apart.” Norman Vincent Peale.
Life often pulls us in many directions. We have responsibilities that need to be fulfilled. We have others to care for, who depend on us. We plan a vacation but then an emergency arises and we have to use our vacation fund to take care of the emergency.
With so many outside forces it’s hard to concentrate on what’s really important in our lives: Our own happiness and peace of mind. We lose track of what truly makes us happy. We don’t set aside time to find a few moments of peace inside ourselves. Instead we just concentrate on reducing stress a little—if we buy the kids the video game they want then maybe they’ll behave for a while; if we allow our spouse to buy that big screen TV or new dress then maybe they’ll show us more affection and love; if we work late maybe our boss will give us a raise.
True happiness doesn’t come from the outside, it’s generated from within. People can lose everything in a fire but still radiate happiness from within. Happiness is the state of being content, satisfied, and at ease. When truly happy you don’t suffer from want; though material goods can bring you momentary pleasure they can’t really make you truly happy.
To find balance in your life remember the Rule of Divinity: Everything is One and One is the greatest power. As Norman Vincent Peale says above, synchronize with this power of the One.
Each day take a few quiet moments to find happiness and peace inside yourself. By doing so you will find balance and learn what’s really important in life.
Is it Spring yet? That might be a question asked by people still suffering cold weather. I’m lucky because I live in Hawaii where it’s sunny and warm most of the time. That’s not to say that we don’t have our share of inclement weather—a few years ago it rained for 41 days straight!
“The coldest winter I ever spent was summer in San Francisco.” Mark Twain.
We do get the occasional hurricane in Hawaii—the last one was over 20 years ago. And we do get snow in Hawaii! On the slopes of the Mauna Kea Volcano which stands at over 13,000 feet. Just a couple years ago all 50 of the United States had snow.
While the weather in Hawaii might seem unseasonably warm to those visitors who come from snow covered vistas, you will see many locals wearing jackets and sweatshirts with their shorts and flip flops. I joke with my friends in cold weather places that it’s so cold in Hawaii that I had to turn down the air conditioning; that it’s so cold that I had to close the windows part way; that it’s so cold that I had to wear long pants.
Everything is relative, though. I’ve been to places where it was below freezing and people were wearing nothing but t-shirts. While anything under 72⁰ F is cold for me!
And so it is with life. As the old saying goes, everything looks greener on the other side of the fence. If you have an office job, an outside job looks for appealing. If you’re married, single people seem to have it better. If you live in Hawaii, you miss the snow. Okay, maybe the last one doesn’t apply.
There are those who are perpetually dissatisfied, no matter what side of the fence they’re on. The trick is to find happiness and enthusiasm where you are right now no matter what. Happiness and enthusiasm are emotions generated from within, independent of outside forces.
If you want to be happy and have passion for your life then follow this exercise called the Value Suns, based on the Six Values of a Coherent Life.
1. Sit in a comfortable, quiet place.
2. Place one hand in your lap, palm up.
3. While looking at the palm of your hand imagine a small sun, a ball of fire.
4. You are in control of this sun; you can change its size and shape, making it bigger, smaller, longer, or higher.
5. As you look at this little sun feel the emotion of the value you wish to create in your life.
6. Concentrate of the feeling for a few moments.
Each sun has a different color for each of the Six Values:
1. Internal Assurance (confidence) = White
2. Eternal Ecstasy (happiness) = Orange
3. Indissoluble Love = Yellow
4. Armored Tranquility (peace) = Green
5. Fervid Enthusiasm = Red
6. Profound Abundance = Sky Blue
By practicing viewing these suns and experiencing the associated emotions, you will no longer be dependent on outside forces to live the Six Values.
What would you do if you had no restrictions, no responsibilities, no limits? If you had all the money in the world and all the time, what would you be doing right now? By answering these questions you can find what you’re passionate about.
“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” Oprah Winfrey.
The problem is that we don’t have all the time and money in the world. We have jobs, family, and other obligations. We might be struggling financially so that finding the money to do something extra is out of the question.
But there are ways that we can follow our passions to a lesser degree. For example, if your passion is to travel then travel to places within your own community that you haven’t been before; meet new people, try new restaurants, shop at new stores. Or you can read about the places you want to travel to, watch videos about those places, and daydream of being there.
No, it’s not the same as travelling there, but it engages the passion part of your brain. Numerous scientific studies have found that imagining doing something has the same effect as actually doing that thing. Imagining, daydreaming, and pretending help us to engage the passion part of our brain and by doing so we increase our passion for other parts of our lives.
By having passion for other parts of our lives, say for a job that we really don’t want to be at, we gain a new lease on life. Our passion infiltrates ourselves, affecting every fiber of our being. We become excited about all areas of our lives. Just like when we were kids, once again we have passion for living!
So even though you can’t be doing anything you want any time you want, at least pursue your passion to the degree that you can. Imagine and daydream. Let the passion inside you manifest itself in other areas of your life. Then once again you will be enjoying life!