With Easter on our doorstep and spring in the air, we’re naturally more optimistic as we head into another growing season. When we observe nature, it’s clear that there is an anticipated pattern of ebb and flow. There’s a time to pause and a time for growth. Perhaps you’re a gardener who relishes nurturing seeds that turn into beautiful plants bearing fruit or maybe you’re a bird watcher, who enjoys the season of migration, as our transient feathered friends join the hearty regulars at the feeder.
Spring is a time of renewal and growth; it’s our time to press refresh and take stock of what we love and what doesn’t work for us anymore. There’s nothing wrong with letting go of habits that don’t serve us and that relates equally to behavior and how we think. It’s easy to get caught up in ideas like this is how I’ve always done it or I can’t change now, I’m too old, regardless of how old you are. Both behavior and thinking habits are tenacious, even addictive but we’re bigger than that and we’re better than that. What nobody tells us is that we can change our mind about anything at any time and we don’t need anybody’s permission to make that move. When it comes to our habits, rather than going for bigtime change, it’s more manageable to nurture small shifts in our thinking and behavioral habits that will reap great benefit in the long run.
“A breath of fresh air is a great thing to take and an even better thing to be.” Nikunj Patel
Let’s start with breathing, shall we? Right now, you’re inhaling one of 25,000 breaths you will take over the course of the day. We take our breath for granted until we have a problem with it but here’s the thing: we should be more aware of how we’re breathing so that we can optimize those precious 25,000 breaths. I recently became aware that my breathing needed some adjustment. I have been sucking in my belly for years to try to appear slimmer and apparently this has not been helpful for my breathing, which ultimately impacts my entire system.
Studies have shown that when we’re stressed our breathing is rapid and shallow; who hasn’t been stressed over the last year in this Pandemic pause? So I’m making time to work on slowing down, breathing in and out of the nose, expanding the belly on the in breath and relaxing it on the exhale. Try it right now; take four or five nice slow inhales and exhales in through the nose while you expand your belly on the inhale and relax it on the exhale. This engages the diaphragm, which is a good thing. Being mindful of how I’m breathing is not a hardship and it’s a change of habit that I’m enjoying and benefiting from.
Breath is at the core of living and our thoughts are at the core of how we live, so it’s important to ensure that how we’re operating is working for us. When we fuel our happiness with thoughts and actions that make us feel good and are helpful for others, the energy of that flows into every aspect of our life. When we feel purposeful, it’s much easier to be compassionate toward ourselves and others.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s never too late and you’re never too old to feel purposeful. Start with how you invest the 24 hours you have in a day. Have you explored what interests you by taking a course or joining a group based on that interest? Can you give your time, talent or treasure to an organization in need of help? Is there something you love to do that could benefit someone else? It doesn’t have to be complicated: if you bake share your goodies with others; if you love to read start or join a book circle. If history, yoga or art is your thing, try taking an online course. Any engagement like this will spark some kind of delight that will flow into every area of your life.
We can’t forget the other support systems like getting good quality sleep, exercising and having healthy eating habits. Having healthy habits in these areas produce that same spark of positive energy that flows into all aspects of our lives.
Anything we do to improve ourselves adds value not only for us but for those close to us as well as the community around us. This is our time to refresh, renew and dance like nobody’s watching, so don’t be afraid to strut your stuff. Remember that life is for learning and growing no matter what age you are.