That’s the problem with too many people these days. Or maybe it’s just me. I get caught up with my everyday tasks and I let little moments slip by without taking the time to enjoy them. Last year I read “Love Does” by Bob Hope, and one quote in the book grabbed my attention.
“There is only one invitation it would kill me to refuse, yet I’m tempted to turn it down all the time. I get the invitation every morning when I wake up to actually live a life of complete engagement, a life of whimsy, a life where love does. It doesn’t come in an envelope. It’s ushered in by a sunrise, the sound of a bird, or the smell of coffee drifting lazily from the kitchen. It’s the invitation to actually live, to fully participate in this amazing life for one more day. Nobody turns down an invitation to the White House, but I’ve seen plenty of people turn down an invitation to fully live. Turning down this invitation comes in lots of flavors. It looks like numbing yourself or distracting yourself or seeing something really beautiful as just normal. It can also look like refusing the forgive or not being grateful or getting wrapped around the axle with fear and envy. I think every day God sends us an invitation to live and sometimes we forget to show up or get head-faked into thinking we haven’t really been invited. But you see, we have been invited – every day, all over again.”
Fully engaged. Noticing the small things. Seeing what is sometimes classified as “ordinary” as beautiful. This takes work. It’s so easy to get taken in by so many things in our over polluted, over stimulated life. You get caught up in what people (who you hardly even know, if you’re honest) posted on social media. And then before you know it, you’ve missed a sunset. And it was gorgeous. You missed the opportunity to just be still. You missed the opportunity to marvel at God’s creation. The opportunity to feel the power of the wind blowing in your face and that invigorating smell of fresh air.
This is me. I do things as fast as I can all the time. I get in and out of stores like my tail was on fire. I walk fast everywhere I go. Because who has time to slow down when I really have a ton of other things I need to be doing? But I’ve decided this isn’t the way I’m supposed to live. I’m supposed to be a good steward of my life. And rushing through things and getting so caught up in my thoughts that I don’t notice the birds singing, or the amazing clouds over my head? Yeah, I don’t think that’s very responsible. They are there for a reason. And it’s there for my enjoyment.
When I refuse to be still and enjoy the day that God gives me, I’m essentially saying it’s not good enough. My to-do list and things I get caught up in are more important than the gift of a new day. More important than the fact that He called on the sun to rise again to provide me for an opportunity to marvel at His wonderful creation.
Being fully engaged means I have to be willing to stop. To not run through my tasks. To slow down. To stop my mental task list and just relax and really look at my surroundings. To break through the bubble surrounding me and really see further than the end of my nose. Or the phone in my hands.
So when I start getting wrapped up in things that don’t even really matter in the long run, I do one of these four things:
1. Look up. I’m amazed at how much I miss as I’m walking outside or driving anywhere. I am just in my own little world and don’t realize the beauty that is surrounding me. I take it for granted all the time. Just take a mental break and look up at the sky. Clouds are amazing. They are new and different every day, changing even by the hour, and you will never see the same sky again. To me, the sky and it’s ever-changing skyscape are reminders that this life is so much bigger than me and my worries. It reminds me that God is in control, and He controls things much bigger than my current circumstances. My world is so much bigger and more beautiful than my little bubble of personal cares and problems. There is an expanse bigger than I can imagine over my head, and my Father controls it all. What I’m going through is just a season, and all things come to an end. Big thoughts from a small habit, but hey, it’s how my brain works sometimes. 🙂 And you don’t even have to look up. Just look around. Notice the leaves. Notice the grass. Every single one is different and unique. And our Heavenly Father took the time to design and plan that.
2. Breathe in, breathe out.Taking deep breaths cause your body to go from a stressed state of mind into a relaxed state of mind, not to mention deep breathing is a great detox for the lungs. Taking a deep breath goes right along with looking up. I like to do them both at the same time. Doing this helps me realize that I am blessed simply to be able to breathe fresh air, let alone just breathing itself. I don’t require help to breathe, I don’t even have to think about breathing. Except for deep breathing purposes. 😉 Then I have to tell myself how I want to breathe at the moment. That right there is also a choice we have to realize is up to us. We choose how we breathe in each moment. We can breathe in thankfulness and the awareness of our everyday blessings, or we can breathe in discontentment, worry, or lists of all the things we wish we had time for. Appreciate the moment you’re in right now. Breathe it in. Realize the good that can be found in every minute of every day, no matter what the situation.
3. Find something to be thankful for. Make a quick mental list of 3-5 blessings that you can think of right at that moment. Sometimes it’s as simple as a sky with amazing clouds, or the fact that I’m on my way home. Finding 3 blessings every morning is part of my daily routine, and I love it. It gets me in the state of mind I need to be in to greet the frustrations of the day. The daily gratitude challenge is part of how I keep my life stress-free. It’s all about cultivating an attitude of gratitude. But the part we have to watch out for is when the gratitude doesn’t go to the right source. Sometimes I’m grateful for something, but I don’t fully take the time to realize it really is a gift. It’s not just something I’ve taken for granted or that I need to remember. It’s something that I don’t have to have. It’s a non-essential. It’s because of the goodness of God that I have it.
4. Do something fun. This is something that is still hard for me. When I feel like I have a lot on my plate or a lot on my mind, the last thing I think about is doing something fun and childish. I tell myself I don’t have time and that it would be irresponsible to take a mental break. But that’s not always true. Sometimes deciding to go out and spend some time jumping on the trampoline with my little brother is just what I needed to refresh and get a new mindset. Not to mention the health benefits of rebounding! It’s reminding myself that life is more than deadlines and responsibilities. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all about responsibility and getting those done without any excuses. But that’s not what we are supposed to be thinking about 24/7. Sometimes the most responsible thing to do is cultivate the inner child and let joy spill out. Our lives are to be characterized by joy, because of what God has done for us. Sometimes it’s more responsible to spend time with younger children and be young with them. They’re only little once. And you are only a part of their life if you make them a part of your life.
Let us all be noticers: