Does This Sound Like a Typical Day?
You get up just early enough to use the toilet, shower, shave, get dressed, groomed, wake up the kids, repeat the previous steps with them, grab something to eat, steal a sweaty kiss from the spouse, run out the door balancing a brief case, diaper bag, granola bar, a coffee cup and a toddler who is fighting to get to the granola bar, pile everything into the car, run to the daycare, then to work where you sell the next 8 or more hours of your life.
At work, you focus on efficiently completing a set of tasks that can not be completed within the alloted amount of time without unnatural levels of focus, drive and caffeine. The first break since getting out of bed comes at lunch where you eat, troubleshoot the issues of the morning, talk about the decisions that the boss should make, then four more hours of work followed by the commute to daycare with a cellphone conversation about the errands of the evening even though you had been planning on cutting the grass for the last 3 days, one annoying driver who keeps passing then slowing down and the sun shining in your eyes while being amplified by the crack in the windshield you had planned to get fixed 4 months ago.
When you finally get home, carrying a brief case, diaper bag, a bag of groceries, a cell phone and a toddler, you open the door when you are nearly knocked over by a dog who begs to get outside to pee but stands by the door after you let her out until you come back outside and stand in the yard and tell her to “go potty”. Supper takes over an hour from preparation to cleanup, you think about cutting the grass while your spouse does some homework, but the kids are demanding your attention and scattering Tupperware throughout the living room, the phone keeps ringing and the dog, after running after the cat, comes whining to you when she gets scratched on the nose.
Things finally settle down and you have a moment of peace, you realize that you have to wake up to start this whole thing over in about 7 hours, so you wash your face, brush your teeth, grab a book and head for bed when you hear a young voice crying in the next room. As you approach the room, the faint smell of vomit becomes more distinct, so you set the book aside you had been hoping to read this year and resign to a night of little sleep while you and your spouse console your child and clean up every item in your child’s room.
Living With Intention When You Can’t Keep Up with Life
It’s probably not difficult to see that the above scenario could be looked at in two distinct ways. If you’re stuck in the middle of it and running to keep up, it’s all pretty frustrating and annoying. If you look at it from an objective perspective, it’s a full, adventurous life, and it’s kind of funny.
It is actually possible to live through a day such as that one and be overwhelmed with joy rather than overwhelmed with stress. It may seem impossible to live with intention in a such a scenario, but the irony of running to keep up is that taking breaks for reflection or meditation help us to focus our energies, be more efficient and have more time for relaxation and conscious planning. No matter what the external adventure of life looks like, meditation and self-reflection help us look at life’s stresses as adventures. It helps us put things into perspective and recognize that letting the grass grow long from time to time is not as important as enjoying life, peace, freedom, family and friends.
Finding Peace and Joy in the Adventure – A Personal Perspective
The scenario described above comes from my own life with some details adjusted for fun; for instance, I don’t drink coffee, I only have one child, a toddler, and he usually vomits on his mommy and me and the furniture in the living room and the babysitter’s furniture and car, and not in his bedroom. I also left out the morning run with the dog and some of the evening details such as my son and me dancing in the living room, playing outside chasing each other around, chasing Frisbees, paper airplanes, balls or whatever else we can throw.
I can’t say that I manage to find time to meditate every day or that I don’t get caught up in the inefficient running cycle from time-to-time. But, since I started making meditation a somewhat regular activity in my life, I have found it much easier to balance my tasks and find time for things that are important to me. And, when I do have to run, I have a lot more fun with it now and tend to get frustrated less frequently.
I notice that all of the things that can make life overwhelming result from awesome gift’s from God: my son, my career, my website, my business, my home, my family and friends. I am so grateful for all these things I’ve been given and am willing to live with occasional days filled with running. But, in order to appreciate these things, I do have to stop from time to time for reflection and meditation.
Daily Action – Laugh at Your Own Stress
When we’re in the midst of the typical day described above, if we’re focused on trying to keep up and get everything done, every event is stressful and annoying. If we’re focused on the big picture, God realization and intending to enjoy life, every event can be taken with a light heart, with laughter, excitement and peace of mind. Peace does not come from what goes on around us, it comes from within when we are connected to God.
The next time you find yourself tempted to respond to an everyday nuisance with annoyance, remember that there is another way of looking at the scenario. Look for it until you are able to laugh at what once you found frustrating.
Continue reading about meditation and self-reflection:
- How to Meditate Effectively – my how-to on meditation.
- Quiet Moments for a Better Life – my post on finding and practicing quiet moments of self-reflection.
- Steve Pavlina: The Joy of Sadness – Steve Pavlina’s post on changing the way you look at your feelings.