November 2020

Be Present. Be Kind. Be Courageous.

Mindfulness, Kindness and Courage: 3 Simple Words with BIG Impact

A few simple words that encompass a lot.  In our uncertain times, simple shifts in perspective and routines can help breathe inspiration into your days.  I’ve been working to cultivate positivity and pay-it-forward focused on these 3 areas

  • Be Present: Mindfulness, simple pleasures, and gratitude
  • Be Kind: Self-care and giving to others
  • Be Courageous: Perseverance, resilience and openness to change

Be Present

We could take note from the Scandinavian approach to finding comfort indoors and out.  Let’s start with the Danish word hygge (pronounced Hoo-ga) which evokes a sense of comfort, togetherness and wellbeing per Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen.  Wiking shares, ‘It is about being with the people we love.  A feeling of home.”

While hygee is largely about finding comfort indoors, the Norwegian’s practice ‘friluftsliv’ (pronounced as free-loofts-liv) by embracing the outdoors.  A recent article in Lonely Planet describes this as concept of open-air-living’ embracing the outdoors and enjoying time to breathe and connect with nature.  Simple goodness.  

Daj Terje Klarp Solvant, secretary general of the Norwegian Trekking Association, said “Outdoor life does not focus on timekeeping, but on physical activity at your own pace, as well as relaxation, calm and time for yourself, and with others”.  Simple goodness of being present to appreciate time – at home and in nature.  

Be Kind

This includes kindness and giving to others – as well as ourselves.  Many of us intuitively think of giving to others, sometimes forgetting to ‘refill’ our own cup and cultivate our own wellness and happiness.  

Thrive Global Founder and CEO, Ariana Huffington is a huge advocate and thought leader in this space.  In her June 2020 article This Moment Is Our Opportunity to Change Our Relationship With Time, she explains the benefits and importance of taking time and taking care of ourselves…’When we consciously build moments into our day to recharge and reset, we improve the quality of our time, making us more present, more productive and better able to focus and prioritize what matters most”.

Shawn Anchor’s book The Happiness Advantage shares research that proves that “when we are happier and more positive we are more engaged, creative and resilient to stress, and productive”.  To do so, he recommends integrating ‘Happiness Habits’ into your routine such focusing on what you are grateful for in your life and  thanking others for their strengths and contributions.  

Be Courageous

To me, Ruth Bader Ginsburg exemplified courage and grace in her actions and words.   The following quote conveys this beautifully: “Fight for the things that you care about but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”  She will be remembered as a champion of gender equity starting as the ‘architect of the legal fight for women’s rights in the 1970s ‘ and proceeded to serve wholeheartedly as Supreme Court Justice for 27 years. 

“Fight for the things that you care about but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg 

For Ruth Bader Ginsburg demonstrated that courage requires heart.  It is fitting that the word courage, from Anglo-French coer or heart is loosely defined as the mental or moral strength to persevere not in the absence of, but in spite of, fear.  Courage can be manifested in many ways big and small.  I’ve found that when you focus on values and causes meaningful to you and those you care about; it helps to inspire action and perseverance in the face of adversity.  In fact, studies find that people who believe their lives have meaning show big benefits for overall wellbeing. In his book, Flourish,  Martin Seligman describes meaning as a vital component of happiness and wellbeing.

Certainly, this is much easier said than done – especially in our uncertain times with many of us facing a steady stream of new challenges,  decisions, and responsibilities.  So follow your heart, invest and act on the things you value, letting go of other distractions and requests that are not aligned with your priorities.  While we may not have control of everything in our midst, we do own our responses to everyday circumstances.  As beautifully stated by Viktor Frankl, “Everything can be taken from us but one thing: the freedom to choose our attitude in any given set of circumstances. 

“Everything can be taken from us but one thing: the freedom to choose our attitude in any given set of circumstances” – Viktor Frankl

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