How to live fully

Last week, I spent every day having mini adventures with my little girl. It’s summertime, and we live in an area that people flock to for their summer vacations. So we played tourist. We went to museums, animal parks, playgrounds, picnic areas, educational centers, Custer State Park, Sylvan Lake, and a handful of hiking trails around the Black Hills. It was beyond awesome to hang out with her. What a fantastic hands-on workshop on how to have a child-like mind from the master!

The art of living with abandon

When hanging with a child, it is important to leave your ego and ideas about time behind. Focus on the fun that is to be had rather than a task to be completed. These important concepts may not sound practical or useful for your adult life, but I beg to differ. Here are lessons I learned from my child about how to live fully.

  1. It’s the journey, not the destination. Ryan Holiday suggests that we “Focus on the effort–not the results.” What actually ends up happening is not up to us, but the effort we put into it is. So, have the intention of making a difference, having fun, doing good, or whatever your mission is, but understand that if these things don’t come to pass it’s ok. Let it go.
  2. Go with the flow. Last week we took a short day trip to Custer State Park. I had a general idea of what we could reasonably be expected to do in a day. When we got there, the park offered us many more opportunities for learning and fun that I didn’t even know existed. Because I was open to anything, our day was much fuller than I could have possibly expected. My child is known for saying, “I’m ready for anything!”
  3. When in doubt, twirl. I saw this advice on a plaque at a dance studio. This is fantastic advice that I highly recommend incorporating into your life. It is especially useful in high-stress situations or when you are overwhelmed.
  4. Let go of control. You may have a plan. It may be a good one. But the universe may have a different plan. It doesn’t have to be done your way. Open yourself to the possibility that the universe’s way might be the better plan and go with it.
  5. Chose love. You cannot control how other people react to what you are doing. They are acting according to their set of beliefs, experience, education, and egos. So are you. When you are met with resistance, choose love.
  6. See things with a beginner’s mind. The child-like mind sees an opportunity for fun in everything. A pile of sticks on the ground can become a teepee. Sections of PVC pipe can become a marble run. Water has endless possibilities. If you only think of the mess, only see a pile of sticks, can’t see the possibility in a tub of water, or think you know all there is to know about a subject, fun will elude you. You will be unable to think outside of the box and your life will become very dull, not to mention unsuccessful.
  7. Have a nature adventure. When I told my child that we were going on a hike, I was met with resistance. I couldn’t understand it. Why did my child not want to spend time in the outdoors? Then I realized that it wasn’t time in the outdoors she was protesting. It was the actual word “hike.” Once I focused on why hiking is fun–flowers, animals, trees, rocks, sounds, smells, pinecones, moss, mushrooms, sun–and not the physical act of walking, she was all for it. It’s about perspective.
  8. Be hands-on. Children want to touch everything! They want to experience things with their whole body. When was the last time you noticed the different textures of things around you? Spend a day noticing the texture of things around you. Different trees have different bark, rocks, plants, grasses, even buildings, pavement, and carpet have varied texture. Noticing these textures is one more way to be mindful throughout the day.
  9. Eat outside. In fact, do everything outside. Outside is the best. There is nothing more humbling than to take a mindful walk in nature. There, you realize just how small you are and how little your troubles matter in the scope of things. It can also help you clear your mind and put your priorities in perspective. Escape the hustle and the bustle and find a way to commune with nature as often as possible.
  10. Wear a hat. In her book Hands Free Mama, Rachel Macy Stafford tells a story about her small child drawing a “What I Want to Be When I Grow Up” picture for school. It was a picture of a lady with a blob on her head. The teacher explained that the child wanted to be a mom when she grew up, but not just any mom, a mom who wears a hat. Rachel explained that on days when they are not in a rush and do not have important things to do, she skipped doing her hair and just put on a hat. These were easy breezy days full of fun and spontaneity. Not the usual days of rush, distraction, and commitment. So the child wanted to be a mom, but only the kind of mom who doesn’t yell, isn’t in a rush, and doesn’t take the time to do her hair.

This is the short list of things I learned last week. I also learned quite a lot about my physical self and my digestion. Read about it in this week’s Nourish Me Wellness blog on Thursday.

If you find this useful, there’s a good chance your friends will, too. Share this with your friends right away while you are thinking of it. Thanks for reading!

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