It’s easy to get obsessed about finishing today’s to-do list, hunting down the solution to some problem, or figuring out how to use your time more productively and make more money. This may seem like the only way to improving your life or changing your circumstances.
Most days pass me by with my eyes glued to the computer screen, and when I’m too exhausted to continue I go to sleep, feeling like I didn’t get much done.
On the one hand, I have some big goals I’m working on and I need to keep plugging. On the other hand, deep down, I know that this is a miserable waste of the incredible bounty life has to offer. Life is absolutely, mind-blowingly, incredible. And all you have to do is slow down and pay attention.
So stop what you’re doing.
You will never have this day again. You will never have this chance to appreciate beauty, enjoy a simple pleasure, or connect with someone you love. Whatever you think you need to do pales in comparison to the meaningful things that truly improve the quality of your life.
If you have time, get up, go outside and pick a flower. Take your shoes off and feel the grass between your toes. Remember what real life feels like when you’re actually paying attention to it.
Take out a pencil and write a note to somebody who made a big impression on you. Feel the vibrations of the pencil moving along the paper going up your arm.
Enjoy something Delicious.
One of the most profound creative practices ever is the “artist date” found in the book The Artist’s Way. In brief, your creativity comes from your inner child, and he or she will only think up genius ideas when they’re happy. So you need to do fun, childish, playful things to entertain him, all by yourself, once a week.
Give more than you take.
Indie authors and artists are far too often selfish with their time – because they are always hustling and trying to get noticed. Relax. Get noticed by giving to others. Get noticed for being generous, kind, patient. Stand out for not promoting yourself. Help others achieve their goals. Support all the creative and beautiful people around you. Do huge favors for other people without asking for anything in return.
Happiness in life comes down to sustained awareness. Be aware of all the good, joy and beauty. Our minds and bodies have a natural response to beauty, an intuitive programming, a psycho-physical response. Breathe, and appreciate.
I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought,
and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
-Gilbert Keith Chesterton
Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.
There is nothing that you have to do.
One of the most empowering, life changing quotes I’ve ever come across, is this:
There is really nothing you must be.
And there is nothing you must do.
There is really nothing you must have.
And there is nothing you must know.
There is really nothing you must become.
However, it helps to understand that fire burns,
and when it rains, the earth gets wet.
Japanese Zen scroll
There is nothing that you must do. Everything is a choice. We do some things we don’t want to in order to get some things that we do want – we make decisions and compromises. But the universe is full of freedom and potential. The purpose of life isn’t one thing or the other – the purpose is simply to experience, learn, and feel.
At the same time, learning from your mistakes and growing in capability and experiential knowledge helps you to become the master of your own universe. (Fire burns, and when it rains, the earth gets wet). Learn the technology that allows you to do more things, faster, and you will have destroyed time.
Create something everlasting.
We are here, now, but we won’t be here very long. Each of us will pass on, leaving behind us all of the fruits of our time spent. Think in terms of legacy. How long will what you have built last? Your website? Your email list? When you’re gone, will there be something beautiful for people to enjoy, or a mess for someone else to clean up or cover over?
A few tips to keep in mind:
1) Create something that has a process you enjoy.
If you don’t enjoy it, you should be doing something else.
2) Create something that can be sold (or given).
If this is a hobby, give everything away. However, if you can sell what you create, you can quit your job and spend more time creating.
Selling your work is not “selling out” – it is simply leveraging your creative talent for more time.
3) Create something permanent.
And by this, I mean something amazing enough that someone will treasure forever, even if just in memory. You don’t necessarily have to carve your name in the cliff to leave your mark; Tibetan masters spend all day making intricate designs out of colored sand, then wiping them away and starting over (to teach non-attachment and impermanence). But even recognizing that their work will not last, they still do it with care, precision and artistry.
Creativindie is more than a skill or ability; it is that unique blend of creativity and industriousness that produces Genius-level personalities, who have creative vision, technical ability and the burning confidence and charm to make it big. Think Dali or Warhol. Sure, you could be a suffering Van Gogh and lead a quiet, poor life of anonymity… but given the choice, why would you?
Remember to smile.
Studies have documented that a slight lift in mood – being a little more happy – can have a drastically positive affect on productivity.
The fastest way to get happy, other studies say, is by deliberately fostering feelings of gratitude.
Another is to just smile. Act as if you were happy, and soon happiness will find you.
So I’ll leave you with another life-changing affirmation, by Paramahansa Yogananda, called “The Light of Smiles.” Let this be your daily goal and you will become unstoppable.
I will light the match of smiles. My gloom veil will disappear.
I shall behold my soul in the light of smiles hidden behind the accumulated darkness of ages.
When I find myself, I shall race through all hearts with the torch of my soul-smiles.
My heart will smile first, then my eyes, then my face. Every body part will shine in the light of smiles.
I will run amid the thickets of melancholy hearts and make a bonfire of all sorrows.
I am the irresistible fire of smiles.
I will fan myself with the breeze of God-joy and blaze my way through the darkness of all minds.
My smiles will convey His smiles and whoever meets me will catch a whiff of my divine joy.
I will carry fragrant, purifying torches of smiles for all hearts.
And don’t forget… YOU’RE AWESOME.