10 Ways to Make Life More Meaningful

More and more, it seems like life can be so hectic. It’s as if we purposely overload ourselves with more things than we could possibly ever accomplish. Whether during the day or as I’m going to sleep, I think about all the things I need to get done: take a shower, make coffee, eat breakfast, brush my teeth, go to work, and more. It’s almost as if at the end of the day I ask myself, “Where did the day go?” Enough of these days and I can ask myself the same questions about weeks, months, or even years!

So when I feel these questions come up, I do some brief exercises that help bring me back to the present moment and remind myself that I’m living.

1. Whatever you are doing, just do it slower. If we work, we all have tasks to do there. Once a day, for five minutes, do one of those tasks a little bit slower. Don’t do the task in slow motion or take breaks, simply do whatever it is a little bit slower.

2. Notice what you’re eating. Start by taking five minutes at lunch, but you can actually do this anytime you eat. Notice what your food looks like, how it smells, feels, and tastes. As you pick up your food, notice the texture of it: is it bumpy, smooth, wet? Notice what you smell. When you bite into it, notice how it feels in your mouth, the tastes that are coming out of it, and how your teeth break it down. As you swallow, notice it going down your throat. Do the same with what you drink.

3. Notice your breath. Sit in a place of your choice: behind your desk, or anywhere. Close your eyes. For three minutes, simply pay attention to your breath. For these three minutes your breath gets your undivided attention. If you notice yourself thinking about something (even the thought, “Why am I doing this stupid exercise?”) just acknowledge that thought and then gently bring your attention back to your breath.

4. Wash the dishes. If you’re not used to doing dishes, there will be many benefits to this one. As you begin to wash the dishes, notice their texture and the warmth of the water on your hands. Inhale and notice if there is any scent. Listen to hear the rush of the water or any other sounds that are happening around you. Not only will you be able to practice being in the moment, but many of your family and friends will be thrilled with you.

5. Take a bath or shower. A bath is preferable if you have one, but even in a shower you can take a moment to feel the warmth of the water or how your body is immersed. How does your skin feel? Do you notice any smells? Is your hair wet? Just be in the moment and notice all your senses. Breathe.

6. Slow down your lovemaking. As you are making love to your significant other, take a moment to purposely move slightly slower. As you do this, begin to mentally feel all the parts of your body. How does your skin feels against theirs? How are you breathing? Are you sweating? Is there a scent in the air? Take a moment and really be there.

7. Smell a flower for an extra moment. This one I love. Often times I’ll pass by a flower and, if I remember to smell it, I’ll take an extra inhalation to really get the full strength of the scent. You will be surprised how much that extra inhale makes a difference in the experience.

8. Be silly. I’m serious! Being silly allows your creative juices to flow, and creativity is what life is all about. Letting yourself be silly can also be very relaxing and create joyful, meaningful situations.

9. Write a letter to someone close to you. Tell them how much you appreciate them. This is not a new idea by any stretch, yet it is always worth mentioning since it is so meaningful. Give them something that they will always cherish.

10. Remind yourself that you are a miracle. This may be the most important. How they heck did any of us get here? Even when we break it down to nanotechnology and quantum physics, scientists are still stumped to figure out the great mystery of us: being physically here, interacting, creating symbols and concepts, and communicating.

It’s boggling. That’s why our moments on this earth are so precious. It is a wonderful gift to attempt to cultivate those sacred moments in life.

You get the idea…now try it out!

 

© Copyright 2008 by Elisha Goldstein, PhD, therapist in Santa Monica, California. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Heidi

    Heidi

    February 11th, 2008 at 7:31 AM

    Elisha, I loved this blog! And, it came not a moment too soon! I had flashbacks of my mom when I was a little girls hanging up the phone w/ great exasperation. Then, the words, “Why can’t I say no?” would always be muttered. I never understood what that was all about, but boy I do now! I am going to take this list with me everywhere and whip it out when I have one of those moments!

  • Christie

    Christie

    February 11th, 2008 at 7:33 AM

    Oh, yeah! I don’t have to be a closet dishwasher any more! And here I thought I was the only one who likes to wash dishes. Another domestic favorite that helps me when I’m overwhelmed w/ too much to do is folding clothes. Putting them away doesn’t do it for me, but give me a load of laundry to fold and I’m flying high. I guess it’s has something to do w/ making order out of chaos-but who cares why it does what it does? As long as it works, I’m happy!

  • avery

    avery

    February 11th, 2008 at 7:35 AM

    Being stressed out w/ too much to do certainly isn’t a new concept. But, it seems so much more intense these days. Do you think it really is more intense? We certainly are expected to get more done in a day, but do we feel the pressure any more acutely than did our ancestors? I just wonder if our biochemical response to “so much to do” in today’s world is the same as it was 200 years ago.

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