“Celebrate Your Way”

birthday hamburger age 6

This photo is of Wil with his “birthday hamburger” at McDonalds last night. A Happy Meal is always cause for celebration, and its all the sweeter topped off with a candle and a wish!

Happy Meals are something most kids have enjoyed over and over again, yet when parents announce, “Who wants McDonalds?”, these same kids never fail to erupt in cheers. We adults have our own version of Happy Meals in our lives…common, simple things that we’ve enjoyed multiple times but they never fail to light a spark in us. We always look forward to this activity, and it never gets old no matter how many times we’ve done it. It might be reading, playing a sport, going to the movies or coffee with a good friend.

These simple enjoyments in life are precious, but because they are not an exotic vacation or thrilling expedition, we may forget to really appreciate the value they bring to our lives. Take Wil’s example…put a candle in them and celebrate them. Think of life without these activities. Like a Happy Meal, we could certainly live without them, but they bring a certain joy to our everyday lives. The thought of doing them makes us erupt into an inner cheer.

If we give these activities a true appreciation for the joy that they fill us with, they deliver even more joy. Each time we are mindful of the simplistic joys in our lives, the richer our lives become. Instead of filling our heads with everything that is wrong, we will start to see more that is right. Both are out there, but we always find what we are looking for.

Life moves at a fast pace and sometimes we are just trying to keep our head above water, let alone taking the time to look around and get a bearing on our surroundings and emotions. Good and bad things are thrown at us all day long. But, when we have more joy and appreciation in our lives, that brings with it more energy and therefore we are more able to slow ourselves down to take stock of our emotions and take notice of the direction we are going, and make a change in course, if needed.

When we make a point of being mindful, appreciating the moment for what it is, whether it be good, bad or stressful, we are able to make better choices for ourselves and our stress level decreases. This combination can only bring more positive into our lives. So, why don’t we all live like this? Just like anything, its a habit, and we have been thinking a different way for a long time, so it takes concentration, repetition and patience to form a new habit.

I’m a work in progress on mindfulness, some days I am more successful at staying in this place than others. But, every time I practice appreciation and mindfulness, my day goes a heck of a lot better. We all have those days when everything goes wrong. Once our mind goes there, we anticipate and therefore notice and even take part in creating more “wrong” in our day. If a day starts off in a way we don’t like, the best thing to do is be mindful of the reality of what happened, realize its a one-time incident, and get a more positive focus on the day.

Little kids are experts at being mindful. They just go about their day having fun and enjoying life, and if they fall down and scrape their knee, they don’t think “oh, great, what a bad day this has started out to be!” They might cry a bit, but then they get over it and get back to playing.

Wil is a pro at mindfulness. He is very good at being in the moment, and when he feels overwhelmed he just stops. He will simply plop himself down wherever he is and not budge until he is ready. Sometimes I wish I could get away with that, and then realized that I could. Only mentally rather than physically.

When we begin to feel overwhelmed, if we are being mindful, we will notice that we are reaching our limit. In these moments, we need to stop and excuse ourselves from the situation. If its a big meeting, it may be excusing ourselves to the restroom or silently counting backwards from 10, or if at home or work, going for a brief walk or simply taking a few minute time out. If we are not being mindful, we won’t notice the alarm going off in our head, and this is where we push ourselves until we get sick, make outbursts or decisions we may later regret.

Its all a process, but that is what can be great about life. Every success, no matter how small, is to be celebrated. Be mindful and be sure to celebrate the simple pleasures in life!

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