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Are You Enjoying Your Life?


Written by Melissa Jones,

I sat on my deck absent-mindedly looking at the beautiful mountain views and breathing in the fresh, crisp winter air, but not really seeing or feeling anything besides an urgency to get back to work, thinking of everything that remained to be done in a rapidly dwindling day. My three-year-old frolicked in the warm sun on the deck that we had cleared a foot of snow from earlier, crowing with delight and jumping as he ran from one end to the other. When I turned my attention to him he stopped playing for a moment and said, “I’m enjoying my life. Are you enjoying yours?”

I pondered the profoundness of his innocent question. Am I enjoying my life? How often do I really stop to enjoy the little things that life has to offer while rushing about from one task to the next, trying to fit it all into one day? In this age of high-speed Internet, Ipods, Smartphones and jam-packed schedules, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the flurry of life and forget about simply living in the present moment. While these technological advances are something of a necessity for our way of life, they also encourage us to live a whirlwind 24/7 lifestyle where we can be reached anytime, anywhere. We live in a culture that despises stillness or inactivity and encourages the idea that our success as human beings depends on how much we can accomplish.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy…
But, according to Kenneth Pelletier, MD, PhD, one of the best things you can do for your health is to relax more. Not only is relaxation good for the mind, but it also benefits the body. Studies show that when the mind and body are relaxed, inflammation of the nerves, arteries and joints is reduced, the heart rate decreases and blood pressure dips to healthier levels. Not only does it feel good to relax, but it’s also good for you.

If you, like most people, find yourself hurrying through life just so you can get back to work, maybe it’s time for all of us to slow down long enough to truly enjoy the flavor of life. Of course, this is easier said than done. After all, we know we need to slow down and take a break, but who has the time?

Pelletier recommends exercising “our relaxation muscles all the time” by including daily mini-breaks into our lives. Here are some quick tips to help you slow down and savor the moment:

  • Move Over to the Slow Lane
    Learn to recognize when you are feeling tense and frantically rushing at whatever activity you are engaged in, whether it’s driving, cooking, eating, etc. Return to your activity at a more measured, human pace. When you stop hurrying and slow your pace a notch or two, you’ll begin to notice the simple things that make you smile, like the flavor and textures of your meals or the tree in your yard that is bursting into bloom.
  • Take Mini Relaxation Breaks Each Day
    Stop looking at that mile-long to-do list and allow yourself to take short five minute mini-breaks throughout your day. Close your eyes and take several deep breaths. If you sit at a desk most of the day, get up and move around to get your circulation going again. You may find that these breaks are just what you need to rejuvenate yourself and get things done.
  • Get More Rest
    Quit pushing yourself so hard and allow yourself some “down” time to replenish those energy reserves. When you think about it, do you get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night? Your body probably needs more sleep than you realize, so treat yourself to an occasional afternoon nap or sleep in on the weekends.
  • Avoid Overbooking Your Schedule
    A tightly packed schedule is often hard to keep up with, and usually results in more stress when you fall behind and are hurrying all day to make up lost time. Allow enough time between commitments so that you’re not rushing about frantically all day. This will help to alleviate some stress as well as give you a little breathing space to enjoy the day more.
  • Of course, these suggestions are easier said than done, and like most of us, I still struggle to slow down enough to get pleasure from the simpler things life has to offer. I have a helpful little reminder though, in the form of a youngster whose sincere question, “Are you enjoying your life?” frequently makes me slow down and think.
  • So, the next time you are feeling tense and anxious as you rush to the next task on your agenda, stop and take a mini-break — whether it’s to bask for a few minutes in the warm spring sunshine with your three-year-old (they don’t stay little forever), give your pet a friendly pat, savor the nutritious meal you took the time to prepare, or to delight in the last rays of the sunshine as it settles below the horizon, ending another action-packed day.

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