It took me some time to get to grips with the idea that how much I enjoy my day is completely up to me. The barriers that we instinctively put up when faced with this concept are plentiful, especially when our day to day life can feel monotonous, negative or difficult.
Spending 40 hours a week in a job you hate takes some serious toll, but it doesn't have to be the hell you may have become accustomed to.
While working on this mindset shift myself there were 3 very distinct things that helped me have a good day every day.
1. Start with gratitude
This is a yoga staple and I'm sure you've dabbled before, if not created a regular habit. Gratitudes help us to slowly shift our mindset from one that naturally focuses on the negative to one that finds the positive from a situation or if there is no evident positive, we are able to learn or adapt instead.
The world is full of pain and struggle, and it's human nature to notice and focus on the potential risks and pain that could impact our owns lives. We've developed this skill to help us survive, but long gone are the days of remembering where the sabre toothed tigers live.
There are dangers every where yes, but we don't have to fill our minds with worrying about the 'what if's'.
Practicing daily gratitudes help keep our mind on the good things in life, and these can be small and go completely unnoticed if we continue to be consumed by the negative.
When you start to look for things you're grateful for every day you start to notice them more and more. They may crop up when you least expect it. You're in a meeting, it's stressing you out, but the smell of coffee wafts into the room. How delicious, how comforting, how easy to dismiss unless we choose to take a single moment to notice it and all the warm feelings that come up with a favourite smell.
Start small, just note down 3 gratitudes each day, before bed is a great time as it helps you go to sleep on a positive note. Remember, you can't be sad when thinking about something you're grateful for.
2. Notice your focus
This one can take a little longer to get your head around, but it's definitely something everyone can do. What we focus on grows, what we ignore dies away. So where we focus our attention becomes bigger and bigger and sometimes this can become all consuming.
Let's go back to that example of the job you hate.
If you spend 40 hours a week in a job you don't like, and every minute of every hour you're there you're thinking how much you hate it, how much you resent the boss, the task in hand or the fact you have to be there, that's a lot of negative focus and it's only going to block any sense of enjoyment.
What if you then head home in the evenings and complain to your friends and family about how much you hate your job.
Then at weekends and every social event (that has the potential to be fun) you 'ruin' it by discussing your deep dislike of your day job.
That's dissatisfaction 24/7, 365. No wonder you're not happy.
What if you stop giving the thing you hate any brain space outside of the hours you're there? Suddenly 2 full days of the week are free from that miserable focus.
What if when you're at work you start to notice your resentment, then lean on those gratitudes and start to realise the small things throughout your day that have the potential to be good instead; a lunch break, a colleague bringing you a hot drink, a text message from a loved one. Whatever it might be, there will be good moments in your day, even if it's just being paid to poo (who doesn't love that).
3. Just let it go
We often let 10 'bad' seconds ruin an entire day.
You may well have heard me say "don't let it ruin you day", and this can take effort, and to do this effectively it takes mindfulness, the mindfulness to notice when you're letting your mind focus on just one thing, and not letting it go.
Similarly to noticing how we can focus on something that we deem negative, we can also pour energy into some tiny mishap, which in the grand scheme of things won't matter in just a few days time.
A simple example of this is someone lets you down, you were meant to meet at a particular time but they don't show up. You've taken time out of your day to get ready, travel and be at the arranged location, but they have forgotten, double booked or over slept, what ever it might be. It wasn't their intention but it's happened.
It would be very easy to dwell on this, perhaps the initial reaction is to be angry at the waste of time and the fact they don't prioritise you and your needs. After a while your anger may turn to resentment, outrage or even full on bitch mode. You call and text all your friends to complain about them, you go home and moan about it to your loved one. You think about nothing else for hours on end, plotting revenge, rude messages to send them and how you'll never make time for them again.
What if you just let it go?
What if you checked said person was healthy and happy and then stopped focusing on it?
Yes it's an inconvenience but does it need to impact YOU negatively any more? By choosing (and it is a choice) to fuel the mishap by talking and thinking about it you only ruin your own day. Your negativity will bring you down, you might even impact other peoples lives with your negativity too, and who wants to be that guy?
Noticing what you are fuelling helps to make your day better or worse. Choose to fuel the minor mishaps, the things that haven't gone to plan and the things you deem negative, you're going to ruin your day. Choose to let them go and put your energy into something that actually brings you joy, or the positives that come out of a change of plan, you are only going to nourish the joy and the wonderful things in your life.
Here's to having a good day, every day.
Love and light
Alex Howarth, owner of GAIN Mobility, Fitness, Astanga, Hatha and Vinyasa teacher. Lover of meditation and writing. Even if I can't spell.