Here is the task that I chose for the first day (from Headed Somewhere’s blog post, 10 Ways to Be Happier in Your Own Home):
“Before you get up each morning, set an intent for the day.
In The Art of Happiness, the Dali Lama says ‘Every day, think as you wake up: today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it.’ Wow. What a wise man. I tend to wake up with a strong visceral reaction that says, ‘Attention human beings: Be afraid of me before coffee. Be very afraid!’ Setting a daily intent makes a huge difference. Your daily intent could be something like ‘be productive’ or ‘enjoy today’s delicious moments’ or it could be something more specific like ‘say thank you to my loved ones today.’ But it should not be another ‘to do’ item on your list.”
Well, I did this on day one. I woke up feeling pretty darn good, took a bit of time to gather my thoughts and let my brain and body wake up more, and then I set my intention for the day. It was, “Find your centre.” To me this meant that if things got harried or I started to feel anxious or stressed, I should try to remember to find my centre, that calm place I can go to, to remember who I am at my core and stay focused on what’s important.
This ended up working really well. There were a few minor wrenches thrown into my plans throughout the day – locked out of the house when I needed my swimsuit to get in a workout; late picking up the kids from school. Andi, my girlfriend, also received a couple of pieces of bad news. A good friend unloaded on me (as she is welcome to, and I was happy to be there for her), and the other drivers on the road were being real jerks. Each time something threw me off, I remembered to find my centre again, and over the course of the day, things went more smoothly because of this and I felt better overall.
Then Andi and I went on a date to a concert, in a bar, and the main act didn’t go on until 12:15 am. We were up until 2 am or so when all was said and done, and ended up with a total of about four hours of sleep. So when I woke up this morning, I could not for the life of me think of any other intention for my day than, “Nap.” My brain would not even function at 7 am when I was still trying to drag my butt out of bed. I tried to think of something meaningful, something that would actually help me throughout the day. Nothing came to me. Even mantras I often use for meditation didn’t seem to hold any real meaning.
While I lay there, our kitten (she’s over a year old now, but she’s still our kitten) climbed up beside me and started to hardcore snuggle me. She showered me with love and purrs, and I felt great. Suddenly I thought to myself, “What if my intention for the day somehow related back to this? What could I say that would remind me of this moment?”
And what did my poor, exhausted brain come up with? “Find the kittens.” It’s pathetic. That’s all my poor little mind could muster. What it meant to me was either, “Find the bits of your day that are as precious as this kitten,” or “Literally look for kittens.” I wasn’t sure but the minutes were ticking by and I needed to get myself and the kids ready to walk out the door.
The really funny thing is, my day was filled with kittens. My colleagues at work shared photos and stories of their cats, I enjoyed some kitties on Instagram, there were plenty of kitten cuddles throughout the day, and cats seemed to show up everywhere. I also had a few moments of random beauty that made me think “Is that a kitten?” Like, are the mountains a kitten moment? What about a Chinook arch? A hot cup of tea? Sure, why not?
In the end, my really dumb intention still worked. I mean, probably because it was about kittens, so it couldn’t really miss. But I’d say that so far this strategy is working. I look forward to continue using it.
And of course, the dedicated board for this series is here.