“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.”
―Viktor E. Frankl
Viktor Frankl is a renowned Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who survived the Holocaust. Although his parents and family members died, he survived three years in the Auschwitz concentration camp. Through his extreme suffering, and witnessing the suffering and resilience of other prisoners, Frankl developed a revolutionary approach to psychotherapy called logotherapy.
At the core of logotherapy is the premise that man’s primary motivational force is to find life meaning. Finding meaning every day is a spiritual quest and requires mindful attentiveness to what we think, say and do.
Unfortunately, it’s not easy to focus on meaning every day, and our life circumstances can toss us around if we’re not grounded with present moment awareness.
Below are 10 simple, meaningful daily routines I’ve found helpful for having a better day:
1. Waking-Up Routine
When you awaken, start with body awareness. Spend a few minutes in bed feeling your inner energy field, and trace it from your inhaled breath all the way down to your toes. Then trace that source of energy all the way back up to the top of your head. Do this once more so that you meet your new day with a connection to your inner being and to disengage from your looping, busy thoughts.
2. Mindful Stretching Routine
Once your feet are on the floor, as you stand up, give attention to deep breathing and stretching. Concentrate your attention on your breathing while you move into different stretching or yoga positions. This need not take long but a few minutes of mindful breathing will fill your body with energy. And stretching has many benefits including stress reduction, flexibility, increased range of motion, and better circulation.
3. Gratitude Routine
I like to make a sweeping gratitude list in the morning. This sets your attitude first thing before any negative worry thoughts can take hold. You can write these down in a journal or mentally go through the list in your head. Either way, pay attention to how you feel as you think of what you are grateful for.
4. High Quality Eating Routine
Eating can and should be enjoyable, but my main goal is mindful high quality eating. Strive to eat small plant based meals 4-5 times daily. Or if you know you want to break a poor food intake habit, try keeping a notebook in your kitchen, and write down everything that you eat. This will be an eye-opener. When we are conscious, we’ll more easily recognize poor food choices and the reasons why we crave them. Check out this delicious recipe for whole grain couscous with spinach and feta.
5. Workspace De-cluttering Routine
Right now my desk has lots of little distracting items junking up my workspace. An uncluttered workspace removes distractions, clears your mind, removes the low-level anxiety of clutter, and improves your creativity. Taking a moment to de-clutter your space says you respect yourself enough to take time for an improved work space and a clear mind.
6. Exercise Ritual
My pattern is to work a few hours in the morning before I go for a long walk or a run. It’s nice to have that luxury working from home. I took up running about 3 years ago after reading the Christopher McDougal book: Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen . I run 3-4 times a week through all the seasons. It is a habit that will take you a few months to form but well worth it. Walking or running is a lifetime fitness exercise and one of the best ways to feel and stay healthy.
7. Stay Hydrated Ritual
First thing in the morning, before coffee, I drink water. I keep a Camelbak Eddy bottle of water with me all day long. Staying hydrated keeps your mind alert, cleanses toxins from your body, and helps to manage hunger between meals.
8. Quiet The Mind Ritual
My purpose for meditation is about quieting my noisy mind. Sitting and focusing on my breathing for 2-3 minutes makes a big difference in maintaining inner peace. Walking meditation works great as you concentrate on each conscious step. Also, walking in my backyard being fully attentive to nature’s symphony of sounds is type of meditation that interrupts my incessant mind pattern.
9. Connect With Your Tribe Ritual
Maintain and build your relationships by setting up time to connect. When you are with your friends and family, be 100% present. Turn off your iPhone, remove other distractions, and be fully alert and attentive. With family and friends, familiarity can breed thoughtlessness about the sacred moments we share with them. Next time you meet, practice listening consciously and don’t miss a single word in the conversation. Be completely focused on the other person and observe the energy and love that flows into the space you share with them.
10. Pandora, Candles and Reading Ritual
I like to put on a soft Pandora music channel and light a scented candle at bedtime. This is such an improvement over watching TV news, violence or irritating commercial ads. It creates a calming and happy atmosphere after a long day and sets the tone for relaxing before going to sleep. I usually read for 10-15 minutes before turning out the lights. Try it tonight. I predict that you’ll sleep and dream better.
The true meaning in life is derived from the simple routines and rituals we create every day. Life is an accumulation of moments, so make your moments count by consciously designing them to provide joy and fulfillment.
What are the simple routines that you find meaningful during your day? Please share them in the comments below.
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