Today, June 21, 2019, is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year and the kickoff to the summer season. The word “solstice” comes from the Latin words meaning “sun” and “standing still.” Let’s celebrate this day by being grateful for the “sunny” parts of our lives. We can also “stand still” by slowing down to reflect on what we have and what we wish for the future. Here are five ways.
1. Practice Gratitude
Regularly being grateful for the good things in your life is good for you. Gratitude reduces negative emotions like aggression and increases positive ones like empathy. Be grateful for the big things, like your good health or financial well-being. But also focus on the small things: the driver who let you merge, the big hug from your child, your delicious cup of coffee. Throughout the day, notice all the little “sunny” things and give thanks for them.
2. Do Less and Be More
There are so many things to do. In order to do less, we must focus on what is important to us. One way to focus is by reducing distractions. Consider turning off notifications on your devices, closing your email when working, or letting your assistant or voicemail take your calls for a period of time. On a more macro level, decide what matters most to you in various areas of your life, and focus on those things. Think about your career, your relationships, your hobbies and so on. Decide what is most important in each of those areas, focus on those things, and let the unimportant fall away.
3. Assess Where You Are Now
As you are deciding what is important, you may need to assess where you are at the present moment. Assess your daily routine by reviewing your calendar and calculating where you spend your time. Do you spend more hours than you’d like following up on unpaid invoices? Do you feel you aren’t as productive in the afternoons as you’d like to be? Consider how often you exercised in the past month. Is that enough for you? Think about how you’d like to spend your days and compare that ideal with how you actually spend your days. If they are vastly different on most days, you may need to make some changes.
4. Decide Where You Want to Be
If you aren’t able currently to focus on the things that are most important to you, decide where you want to be and what you can do to get there. You don’t necessarily need to do more to move closer to your goal. You can delegate things that aren’t important for you to do. You can hire someone to handle routine or low-skill tasks that don’t move you toward your goals. You might drop some tasks completely, determining that they need not be done at all. Decide where you want to be, make a plan, and go.
5. Tell Someone Thank You
As you are focusing in on what matters most to you, enlist others to help you. They can handle tasks that aren’t so important to you or that don’t move you toward your goals. When they assist you, even if you pay them, extend your thanks. People enjoy being appreciated, and it encourages them to “step up.” We will often do things more happily if we know it will be appreciated. Did your assistant handle all your calls so you could focus on your brief for an hour? Tell her thanks. Did the cab driver get you to your meeting on time, despite the busy traffic? Tell him thank you. Did your spouse offer to pick up the kids so you could stay late at the office? Say thanks. Don’t be stingy with your gratitude. Dole it out liberally.
Lastly, enjoy the sunshine!
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