Autumn is making its entry washing with soft rainy days the remnants of summer. Saved a few baskets of tomatoes, our organic garden melted with the rapid frost that visited us early this year.
But this year is still blossoming. We are awaiting with joy a new one into our family!
Tribulations of the first trimester of pregnancy include finding we have almost all we really need for this precious human being, and along with the needed fatigue [and unneeded , to my liking, 24/7 nausea], needing to recede from the forefront of managing my home and leaving my unschooled sons with more autonomy. This brings happy benefits for us all.
Uninterrupted by maybe a created need to get out and to show my sons the world, my sons follow their passions for hours and grow in agility. Even occasional boredom seems beneficial to make way for new ways of entertainment.
This is true for me too. Living more at home leaves me with time, if not energy at the moment, to do what I love, as well as resourcefulness, and the ability to let go. I splurge into books that kindle my interest and help me further on raising a family, like unschooling memoirs or a classic, War and Peace. Simple happiness is even making me immortalize my days in a painting entitled Live The Life You Love. Art is all around me now, I create space for it, as an entire wall in my bedroom, for I find it nourishes my soul. A new project has also come up with other stay-at-home moms to write a collection of short stories based on our lives.
All of it creates a great sense of love and harmony in our home… And I realize I am in love with the simple daily life.
To help out and inspire, I came up with a simple list of habits to live the life we love. A good way to appreciate more our life would be to melt the habits we don’t have yet in our waking time – I know I still have to work on some of them, and I always enjoy to discover new research on the subject.
1. The Gratefulness Habit
To live the life we love it helps to learn to love what our life already is. Studies led by the leader on the subject, Dr. Robert Emmons, show that people who actively, everyday, note what they are grateful for have greater levels of physiological, emotional, and social wellbeing. We may note it down in a journal, or integrate it as a part daily meditation, for example.
Gratefulness is a great part of my daily life. My heart is filled by the hundred little joys of the day, that I try to savor on the go. And I try to tamper few episodes of short temper with important moments of meditation and introspection, remembering bliss is always within me.
2. The Purpose Habit
Daily life’s not easy, but fulfilling and full of learnings when lived with purpose.
One of the leaders of development psychology, Abraham Maslow, studied fondly what is the making of the happiest, fulfilled people, such as Albert Einstein or Eleanor Roosevelt. His inspiring discoveries on human motivation are that we have different kind of needs we have to respond to, like our basic needs we are accustomed to, but also needs of realization. Achievements, creativity, taking care of ourselves and others, are amongst our needs. When some of them are lacking, the individual can become stressed and anxious!
So it is definitively something to look at if we feel these emotions. I know this is why I love to take care of my family but also give back to the community by using my enthusiasm and talents. Adding a passion to our lives that helps others and gives us purpose may not take lots of time, we may start with only 15 minutes a day – like responding to a question on social media, creating delightful art, or calling a loved one who is going through a difficult time. Sometimes this is all I can make time for to write, but it still feels awesome to accomplish it.
3. The Humility Habit
I find also in my life that getting to live the life we love is kindled by quieting the ego and expectations.
Science findings reveal what spirituality has demonstrated, that humility has a host of benefits for one’s life. According to a recent article on humility in Psychology Today by writer Temma Ehrenfeld
According to one model, the humble see their strengths and weaknesses accurately, and are inclined to altruism. Such people would be apt to treat romantic partners well, and to act in ways that support their bond.
Her colleague, Michael W. Austin, Ph.D, found that:
Recent studies show that humility is connected with many forms of prosocial behavior. While some misunderstand humility as low self-esteem or self-denigration, a proper conception of this virtue has both self-regarding and other-regarding components. The humble person keeps her accomplishments, gifts, and talents in a proper perspective. She has self-knowledge, and is aware of her limitations as an individual and as a human being. But humble individuals are also oriented towards others, they value the welfare of other people and have the ability to “forget themselves” as well, when appropriate.
Interestingly, the empirical research on humility shows that this trait has great value. Humility has been linked with better academic performance, job performance, and excellence in leadership. Humble people have better social relationships, avoid deception in their social interactions, and they tend to be forgiving, grateful, and cooperative. A recent set of studies also shows that humility is a consistent predictor of generosity. People who are humble tend to be more generous with both their time and their money.
Modern sociology and philosophy also teach that we aren’t our roles, our possessions, or the norms or set of rules we follow. Ancient Zen philosophy denotes the ego is a sort of mirage, and identifying with it causes plenty of delusions and suffering. We are better off living with humility.
4. The Freedom Habit
I find it freeing too to think about the direction I’d love my life to continue onto, on what I can influence. We have so much freedom in that than what we generally are used to. One of the inspiring sentences I’ve came across lately is:
“Live free as if someone left the gate open.”
With our education and living in our modern culture connected to many obligations, it’s easy to forget we really are free. Free to choose how to pass our time. Free to choose how to make our living. Free to the extend of not hurting anyone’s free choice too.
We’re free, we have choices, here and now.
I try to make a habit of thinking about my freedom when I don’t like what I do, feel disconnected with whom I’m with, or whatever, and find a pleasing alternative.
Here are the definitions of freedom, on Wikipedia, to ponder upon and look at every facade of our life to make sure it is there:
1. (uncountable) The state of being free, of not being imprisoned or enslaved.
Having recently been released from prison, he didn’t know what to do with his newfound freedom.
2. (countable) The lack of a specific constraint, or of constraints in general; a state of being free, unconstrained.
3. Frankness; openness; unreservedness.
4. Improper familiarity; violation of the rules of decorum.
I am perpetually surprised I am truly living a life I love, and free to come up with what I want to change.
5. The Happiness Habit
In The Happiness Project, author Gretchen Rubin’s research notes that having the habit of being happy on purpose makes us happy.
Happiness studies with twins show that while half of our happiness appears to be genetically determined, our attitude can influence a big part of our happiness. The happiness “muscle” can be trained, to become happier and stay this way.
My favorite way is with meditation. I have seen a lasting effect of doing it twice a day, even if for a few minutes. And now when I’m stressed out, I can return to a place of bliss in an instant – powerful tool. Gratitude helps a lot as well as changing our life with positive psychology. For example keeping a positive social media feed, hanging inspiring quotes in our home and office, being someone pleasant to converse with, smiling more, enjoy the beauty, fun and peace in the present moment.
6. The Live in the Now Habit
Zen philosophy teaches that the only moment that exists is now. We remember the past through now, and think about the future, now.
A saying goes that people that are depressed delve too much on the past, anxious people on the future. Living in the now, we would be happy and at peace.
When we can catch ourselves thinking too much, living out of the present, we can make a conscious effort that becomes easier with time to stop thinking. Breathing in, we calm ourselves, breathing out, we smile and enjoy the life we live, as says Zen monk and teacher Thich Nhat Hanh.
7. The Let Go Habit
“If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.”
– Dalai Lama
I feel one of the most important habits is resumed by Letting go.
[Interestingly, after a saving of my blog post, this section went away – and I did not lose much of my cool about it. Zen lessons are paying! Here I go again, in a simpler version.]
Studies abound on the effect of stress in our lives. Much of it is caused by what we have in excess – material, thoughts, emotions… Zen philosophy and minimalism are a cure to that, teaching to let go of our inner and outer clutter.
Practicing the habits of gracefulness, purpose, freedom, happiness, humility, living in the now, and letting go, we can live the life we love, now.
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Exline, Julie and Hill, Peter. Humility: A consistent and robust predictor of generosity, The Journal of Positive Psychology (May 2012).
Rubin, Gretchen. The Happiness Project.
Van Tongeren, D., Davis, D., & Hook, J. (2014). Social benefits of humility: Initiating and maintaining romantic relationships, The Journal of Positive Psychology, 9 (4), 313-321 DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2014.898317
Wikipedia, Happiness, Freedom.