My Great aunt was always telling me to slow down: this while I was juggling two kids under 5 and my own business. “Stop and smell the roses,” she would say.
I disregarded her like young people disregard all old people. It made no sense to me, then. There was a business to grow, the need to make sure my kids were wherever they needed to be; a marriage to nurture; friends to visit; events to attend … proverbially so much to do with so little time in which to do it.
The metaphor of smelling roses implies stopping everything else in your life, and being still, aware and absorbed in a single, beautiful moment. It’s not about the rose: it’s about awareness, stillness and re-grouping. Giving all your busyness a break.
Age and experience has brought me the wisdom to not only do that, but to go one step further: embracing JOMO.
The absolute, incredible Joy Of Missing Out.
Image by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash
By saying ‘No’ to invitations and to demands on my time that are not priorities and not something I want to do with all my heart, I’ve freed up so much time to be still and do – (gasp) – nothing. The benefits are incalculable. The natural result of ‘unoccupying’ yourself, is that you experience mindfulness: total immersion in what you’re busy doing, whether it’s planting seedlings, floating on the pool or staring at your bird feeder. With this comes a new awareness of bodily sensations, feelings and thoughts in a state of total calm; which has become a popular therapeutic technique for stress.
Notice how it feels to walk into a room, eat alone, drive your car. This noticing is mindfulness.
Mindfulness relieves stress, lowers blood pressure, improves sleep and our immune system, decreases anxiety and reduces symptoms of depression. All by doing n.o.t.h.i.n.g but feeling, smelling, thinking. It’s as easy as that.
There are added benefits. You’ll discover a new stillness in yourself shortly before your colleagues and family notice the same thing. You’ll be surprised by your mental clarity and increased tolerance – even rush hour traffic becomes a time of thought, rather than frustration.
Have you heard of prosocial behaviour? It’s when you think of the good of others and how your actions will benefit them. There’s plenty of research right now into how this behaviour grows when you spend time being consciously mindful. It’s the most freely available and inexpensive Superpower around.
If you are so wound up that you have no idea where to start, try these useful links:
Like all changes of habit, it takes a while for it to feel natural – but once it kicks in, there is truly no end to the benefits of slowing down, taking moments for yourself and opting out of saying Yes to everything.
Image by Annie Spratt on Unsplash