One of my favorite parenting books is The Happiest Toddler on the Block and mostly because of one principle that Dr. Karp purports: look forward to your child’s tantrums as an opportunity to connect. I have transferred this principle to other parts of my life with a lot of success. I now see arguments with my spouse as opportunities to communicate more effectively. Getting lost while trying to find a new store doesn’t bother me the way it used to because I see it as an opportunity to get to know an unfamiliar area. Forgetting my wallet at home is a chance for me to practice going into a store and choosing just to look around and not have to buy something. Notice that I don’t have to see the tantrums, arguments, getting lost, and forgetfulness as necessarily good things within themselves, but rather as a way for me to learn something new.
1. Silence can be your friend.
I once had a mentor tell me that I don’t need to be afraid of silence. I had expressed that I was concerned about the amount of silence that occurred in a group discussion. My mentor then explained that just because a moment is silent, doesn’t mean that it isn’t productive. Our ability to feel inspired can be greatly influenced solely by an opportunity to process it within our minds. Since this experience, I have seen that principle benefit my family and me in many ways. Whenever I need a moment to process something I can’t seem to understand, I surround myself with silence inside and out. I turn off the TV and quiet my brain by practicing mindfulness. Even 5 minutes of this has proven to give me better insight and calm my strongest negative feelings. In this sense, I control my ability to receive inspiration without actually forcing it. If I don’t receive any during that time, which can often happen, I have found that taking a moment to quiet my mind before approaching the challenge again is just as useful.
2. Practice mindfulness.
I know this has been mentioned before, but this practice has increased my focus and significantly increased the daily wisdom that I receive. Since practicing daily mindfulness I have been more productive and more easily inspired than ever before. I used to see mealtimes and tasks like dishes and laundry as monotonous time-wasters. I was always seeing these moments in my day as preventing me from doing what I felt was more important. When I practice mindfulness in these situations I can sense a significant change in my ability to be uplifted and inspired. As I mindfully do the dishes, or mindfully eat my lunch, I was more attune to the subtle outreaching of my children to want to “help” or to talk with me. With mindfulness, rather than dismissing them I engage them and create a happy memory.
3. Keep a gratitude journal.
For years, I kept a daily gratitude journal. This not only helped me improve my mood, it facilitated in me the ability to see the best side of things in my life. On days when I felt like things were at their worst, I forced myself to write down even simple conveniences such as “I am grateful for a washer and dryer to help me with my cleaning” or “I am grateful for the invention of indoor plumbing.” These days were sometimes more inspiring than days that had seemingly miraculous events. I was better able to see my life as more blessed and for me to see that I had much more than I was assuming.
If you’re feeling uninspired today, try changing your outlook, allowing some more silence into your day, practice mindfulness, or write in your gratitude journal. These little habits might inspire a huge impact.
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