The holiday season can be challenging, especially during the second year of a pandemic! Now, more than ever, we need to cultivate the basic qualities of compassion and kindness towards ourselves and others. Today I want to share 5 simple things we can do to create calm moments throughout the day. They also have the potential to truly make the world a better place for all.
1. Smile at a stranger. This simple gesture will immediately elevate your mood, and hopefully the person you are smiling at.
2. Be helpful. As a culture, we are experiencing collective trauma. Simple gestures, such as holding a door for someone, can make someone else’s life a little bit easier. It also lifts our own spirits. As Ralph Waldo Emerson so eloquently stated, “It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”
3. Step into the sunshine. We are fortunate to have over 300 days of sunshine in Colorado. Take one minute out of your day to soak it in. Notice the warm sun on your face. You will feel better, I promise. And when you feel better, you have more to give to others.
4. Try the 4-7-8 breathing technique. Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold the breath for 7 seconds, and exhale for 8 seconds. This technique can be used to decrease anxiety, improve sleep, and slow down emotional responses, such as anger.
5. Practice gratitude. Last spring I started a simple gratitude practice. When I climb in bed at night, I think of three things I am grateful for. I do the same thing when I wake up, before getting out of bed. There is no doubt in my mind that, over time, this has significantly increased my happiness.
All of these suggestions are free and take less than a minute! Give them a try!