The Seven Simplicities of Self
1. Share your secret smile.
When you share your smile every day in every way, you will generate a positive chemistry in your body that can over-ride sadness, anxiety and depressive thoughts. As you walk through your day, share your best self with others and wish them well and hope they will flourish. Anyone who sees the smile on your face will take away a good feeling from you, and you will be creating the happy juices inside yourself. The sounds of your smile may even emerge in song or laughter. A smile creates the powerful connection that can exist between humans, if you remind yourself regularly that “I speak smile!”
2. Absorb the rainbow colours in natural life
Go green to be amongst the nature of our beautiful surroundings, glow gold for the rays from the sun, get beyond blue with the clear sky that is always waiting to emerge, regardless of the dark clouds that can make a day feel heavy. Exercise and feel the redness in your cheeks, savour the oranges of the never-ending sunrises and sunsets, soak up the joy of nature. Find passion in the violet purples of the fruits, flowers and food of our earth. Marvel at the indigo in birds, butterflies, and creatures of the ocean. Take a mindful moment in nature to sit, walk, breathe, admire, absorb, immerse and find the awe. Come to your senses!
3. Find gratitude in the simplest things in life.
Starting from a point of satisfaction instead of dissatisfaction. On waking, feel lucky to be alive and take 5 deep breaths. Realize that contentment is the greatest of wealth and that no money or things can buy it. If it helps to formally reflect on what you personally have to be grateful for, then make it a practice to write in a gratitude journal each day. You can note five things to be grateful for in your life and one thing to look forward to tomorrow. In Mindfulness we start to see the world the way it really is, not as we expect it to be, how we want it to be, or what we fear it may become…
4. Give generously - in your thoughts, time, love and resources
Do good-natured deeds for someone else and flourish in the joy of giving. Perform random acts of kindness and expect nothing in return except the delight in having brought pleasure to another person. But giving also includes receiving. Your gracious acceptance of generosity demonstrates that you respect the joy someone else has just felt in the cycle of giving. By refusing generosity to yourself, you would be denying the giver the opportunity to experience intrinsic pleasure in behaving generously too. The analogy of reaching for the oxygen mask for yourself first, before giving it to your child, is sound. You can only give to others once you have given to yourself first – yes, first! So, give yourself permission to receive from yourself. And once you can give to yourself you will find an endless reservoir deep inside that allows you to share your gifts with others. “Practice sharing the fullness of your being, your best self, your enthusiasm, your vitality, your spirit, your trust, your openness, above all, your presence. Share it with yourself, with your family, with the world.” Pay it forward
5. Cultivate compassion for self and others.
If you live by the philosophy of doing no harm to self or others, you can change your impact on the world and the world’s impact on you. Mindfulness is about observation without criticism; being compassionate with yourself in a way that is accepting and non-judgmental. The people who emit a sense of calm and content will often be those who accept who they are and feel good about their wellbeing. It is when you intentionally choose to recognise suffering and then create an environment that benefits others you will be compassionately opening your heart towards others, but also profoundly towards yourself. From this foundation of self-acceptance you can develop change which is likely to be both empowering and long lasting. See a similarity in the other person to recognise they are “just like me” to generate the offer kindness to others. Act with Kindfulness on a daily basis!
6. Listen to your body and value your physical uniqueness.
Whilst you did not get to choose the body and the brain that is uniquely yours, you can respect them for the miracle of life that they give you. Being content with who you are is the greatest of treasures. What you focus on is what you feel. When you have an attitude of appreciation and gratitude for who you are now, you will stop comparing yourself to others. Your body is always in present moment time, whilst your mind may be somewhere else in the past or the future. Your breath can be viewed as a barometer of your emotions, and can be the tool to use to regulate your nervous system responses. Observe the messages your body is giving you in view of your health- notice where your stress reactions occur in your body, notice your body’s response to food and fluid intake, notice your posture and the way your move. Notice the effect on your body when you don’t get enough sleep. Your healthy or unhealthy choices are ultimately reflected back at you via your body’s response. Become mindfully aware of what you eat. Notice your body’s response to movement. When you hold your body’s posture with a sense of uprightness, you bring strength and grace to your express your best self. Your body does not lie!
7. Notice your language...
... to yourself and what you say to others. Are you getting in your own way if you think “the world is against me”?
These thoughts are understandable yet self-limiting. Don’t believe everything you think! When a negative thought enters your mind, evaluate it and notice the emotion that is arising in you. Name it. By labelling the emotion you will be more able to acknowledge your experience and let it go, rationally. Then respond with affirmations of what is good about you. “A thought is not a fact. A thought is just a thought.” (J. Kabat- Zinn). When you have positive beliefs your mind creates situations in your life that mirror those positive beliefs. Practice positive self-talk and start by following two simple rules:
>> Don't say anything to yourself that you wouldn't say to anyone else.
>> Be gentle and encouraging with yourself and use a friendly tone when talking to yourself
When you cultivate this habit of self- compassion, your self-talk will contain less self-criticism and more self-acceptance. You may also become less critical of the world around you when allow some space to let the natural tendencies of goodness arise. Get out of your own way!