This may come as a shock to you but… I like establishing a routine. It makes me feel like everything is right in the world.
A routine creates order and structure, it allows us to accomplish all the things we need to get done in a day more efficiently.
Lives are built on establishing and following routines. Shocking I know right!?! We create an infrastructure of friends, restaurants, gyms, businesses, roads we take, grocery stores we shop in – and we form strong preferences and attachments for these things.
But seriously, a routine can be majorly limiting.
If all you ate for dinner was chicken, broccoli and sweet potatoes day after day, you’d be missing a TON of other important nutrients, vitamins and flavors! Like pasta with stringy cheese….
Don’t let your life turn into a meal you eat over and over because it’s safe and familiar. There is always room for improvement and growth, for spices that add complexity and depth of flavor.
Your life is multifaceted and there may be some parts of it that you really can’t change right now. But what about all the other parts? Your workout routine, what you’re cooking, who you’re making time for socially, the places you’re hanging out at – are you doing these things because you’ve always done them, or because they actually fulfill you, the you who you are right now?
I’m not asking you to consider leaving the country or quitting your job, I’m asking you to notice the patterns you’ve created in your life and reassess if they are routines that are serving you as well today as they were when you created them.
Whether you’re in a funk or simply looking to increase your current level of happiness, here are the 5 life lessons that will really help you:
1. Take Responsibility – “Nothing can bring you happiness but yourself.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
Happiness is a choice. If you’re unhappy right now, it’s because of the things you choose to think about. And you have the power to change that instantly. I’ve learned that happiness doesn’t always come easy, and that it takes work. When everything is going well, being happy is simple. But when we’re facing challenges and uncertainty, it takes conscious effort not to fall in ”victim mode”. We constantly need to remind ourselves that we’re the architects of our own happiness.
2. Be Here Now – “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.” -Lao Tzu
Whenever we’re leaving behind a great chapter of our life, whether it’s a great relationship, or an amazing trip, we have a tendency to hang on to it. We keep thinking about it, wishing we could go back. This only creates sufferance. The past is gone. Right now is all we’ve got.
On the other end of the spectrum, when we worry about the future, that’s a choice we’re making. The reality is that the only thing within our control is what we’re doing right now. Anything else is just wasted emotional energy. Do your best in the present moment, it’s all that really matters.
3. Surrender to what is – “Always say “yes” to the present moment. What could be more futile, more insane, than to create inner resistance to what already is?” -Eckhart Tolle
Whenever we’re in a sub-optimal situation, whether it’s being stuck in traffic, or going through a challenging period at work/school, getting upset about it serves no purpose. It’s like trying to argue with reality, with what already is.
Yet we all do it at times. Consider these thoughts:
“Why does this happen to me?”
“Why isn’t my life easier?”
This mental whining is pointless, and causes much of our suffering.
As Eckhart Tolle says: “The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.” Simply being aware of this is powerful. As soon as you catch yourself in one of these thought patterns, when you’re “mentally complaining” about what’s in front of you, stop instantly. Replace it with a more empowering thought.
When we argue with reality, we never win.
4. Stop the hamster wheel – “No-mind is clarity, purity, innocence. No-mind is the real way to live, the real way to know, the real way to be.” -Osho.
Have you ever stopped to think about the sheer number of thoughts that go through your head every day? Thousands and thousands of thoughts. All day, every day. Perhaps it’s because of the fast-paced world we live in, but it seems like we all struggle to slow our mind down.
A lot of this thinking is unnecessary… and exhausting!
That’s why it’s highly beneficial to surrender to moments when we’re not thinking about anything, when we’re simply being. This helps us preserve mental energy and opens us up for greater insights. Tomorrow, during the day, try to see how long you can go without thinking about anything. It’s harder than it seems… but it’s the gateway to much clearer mind.
5. Get out of your head and into the world – “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” -Gandhi
In a world where so much happens online, we have to be careful to not neglect the importance of real face-to-face connection.
If you’re going through a tough time, you might feel especially inclined to isolate yourself, but it’s only going to make things worse. Seek the presence of people you love, people who inspire you. And go a step further: Do your best to make them happy! Smile, ask how they’re doing, and help them with their challenges.
The more you focus on their happiness, the more yours will come.
Don’t limit yourself to the same things you’ve always done just because you have always done them. Every day we’re learning and growing inside. Every day we are greater than we were the day before.
With love from the Trench kitchen,