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Mindful Living in a Fast Paced World

by Bethany

While I would like to consider myself someone who lives and breathes positive energy and exudes calmness and joy- this is not the case- always. This is also what I think of when talking about mindful living. A slow paced life with pauses as appropriate and a soft sound of crashing waves in the background. I am not even kidding, I would love this to be true- but that is only a part of mindful living – not the whole picture.

I recently re-set my financial goals after the summer and a little too much YOLO. What I left out of those goals was mindfulness. Or at least being intentional about it.  Instead I packed them full of hustle and doing- as is typical for myself.

I am in training. Rather, my brain is right now, to slow down and live a mindful life. Hustle is my middle name. I am a doer and all around type A personality. Work before play, and even then make sure to stay ahead of work. I can confidently say that I am on time to appts and strive to meet every expectation.

My weekdays look like this right now:
  • Wake up between 4:30 and 5 AM.
  • Coffee
  • Pull out Laptop and work on projects for freelancing or our blog.
  • 6:20AM- get dressed and ready, choke down breakfast at 6:30am or skip it
  • Leave by 6:45AM
  • Teach and have meetings for 8+ hours
  • Home by 3:30- 4pm
  • Walk dogs
  • Start/Make Dinner (on Tues/Thurs. Only)
  • Go to Gym or Yoga (on Mon./Wed)
  • Play with cats
  • Pull out laptop and do emails and business work
  • Bed by 9pm

I know what this “go-go-go” mentality is rooted in traumas that shaped my brain to be on high alert all the time. It is also rooted in the fast paced and ever connected world.

I once wrote about how I changed my morning routine over a year ago and started meditating. That lasted for about 6 months until I had a new project or felt like I was behind at work. The first thing to go was my meditation and mindful morning routine.

I also know that I need to work on slowing down as I think this will ease my anxiety. It took me a long time to realize that much of my tenacious personality was sitting in a bed of anxiety too. With my current schedule things like eating, sitting down for a conversation, calling a friend, taking photographs for myself, or meditation, have not found their place as much as I would like.

The one thing I can boast is that my main form of self care- yoga or the gym has found a place in the schedule for the most part. Although, these are the first things to go when life gets busy. I also know that while they may be self-care they also have small roots in past body insecurities and can be a part of the “go- get it done- don’t drop a ball” mindset.

Balance is the struggle with this, and balance is what I think mindful living is all about. I am on a quest to live a more mindful life and here are some things I am considering incorporating in order to ease anxiety and head that direction. This is not to say that I will do all of these or any of these- only that I will do some to train my brain for a more mindful life.

These are some steps to head in a more mindful direction that I have journaled about, researched, and considered bringing into my life:

1. Meditation

When I was meditating every morning my overall well being greatly improved. My focus was better- I felt connected to me. While I may not meditate in the mornings anymore- I still do at my yoga class. I would like to bring daily meditation back into my routine in the afternoons when I get home from work. A switch to change into  different mode.

The Meditation app I used was called Headspace.  I have also heard great things about Calm and The Mindfulness App.

2. Half and Half (Dedicated work and play)

While it is easy for work and hustle to take up more than half my day, I want to get to a point where my week looks like half work and half play. A little more balance. While this may not happen when I am teaching– this is what I am striving for.

While my body may be able to survive the grind- the day in and day out of constant going and responding and being accessible for all- my soul will not.

I also want the play to be actual play- not just zoning out on Netflix and Wine. Play with my own interests and passions without expectations. While writing for our blog is considered play for me, sometimes it is done for the necessity, not the play.

3. Dedicate time to be extra selfish

Making dinner, playing with the dogs and cats are not really just for me. They are for us, for our “kids” things that need to happen to keep the house running. I would like to dedicate some extra time to be extra selfish. Not everyday or even every weekend, but maybe once a month. Some time to lay in bed, put on a face mask, not worry about the animals or the house or whatever else may be on my mind and just let it go. The hard part will be practicing letting it go.

4. Screen Time

Less of this altogether. I was honestly scared to even look at my screen time on my iPhone once it updated to start tracking it. Part of me thought it may not be that bad because I never pick up my phone while at work…but I was wrong. I spend way too much time on my phone reading Twitter and Instagram. To be fair I am reading articles and posts from other bloggers. Still, social media are the main culprits.

I also create and write on the computer, so it seems like a screen is in front of my face often- far too often.

Ways to shut this down:

  • Leave my phone at home when I go to the grocery store or out on a quick errand.
  • Put a lock on my phone for certain social media times
  • Take a break from social media all together (AHHH! Why does this give anxiety to not be reading a Twitter feed?)
  • Get my news from the actual website- instead of going to the Twitter page for their updates
  • Matt’s Video below was helpful in considering how to break my phone pick up habits

5. Intentional pauses

This one will be the hardest for me. This requires that I actually take pauses in and out of work- intentional pauses to bring myself back to the moment.

Just as pauses are powerful in public speaking, they are even more powerful for your life.

I have done this by setting the “Breathe” setting in my iPhone and then my apple watch will remind me throughout the day. If you do not have an iPhone there are other mindful apps that allow for this as well. Just as pauses are powerful in public speaking, they are even more powerful for your life.

6. Attitude of Gratitude

While cultivating an attitude of gratitude may sound easy, it can be just as easy to slip into complaining. Advertising works to cultivate this attitude in order to have us make more purchases. Cutting our cable was an essential part of helping me with gratefulness.

In addition to this I did a one month of “Gratitude Journal” as a challenge a little while ago. Below, Lavendaire talks about cultivating gratitude and her own journal and mindset routines.

7. Being Kind and Generous

The things humans should do. I am not a “should do” kind of person generally- but in terms of kindness and generosity I am. Kindness is free. Being generous is what costs, but it also gives back to you in a human way.

This also means removing resistance. Why are you resisting moving a friend or buying a friends something? Some of you may be on a path to FI or Debt payoff, but this doesn’t mean your time isn’t just as valuable. (This apply to us as well)

We recently reviewed how we would not be giving gifts in the traditional sense of things- but instead memories and this means a different approach to generosity. This mean approaching generosity so that the focus shifts to the people instead of on the things.

8. Actually waiting (for the due date)

As part of my new mantra to try and live in the moment, I am making an attempt to wait till closer to the due date to submit work or finish paper work. In my day job and in freelancing I tend to be ahead of the game and submitting things early- this is not a bad thing- but can make me feel rushed because I am so used to submitting early- so my own goal is to turn in closer to the due date. I can have it done early- but waiting for this due date will be important.

Creating lists and being ok with leaving work on time was a goal I set last year. It has worked really well so far. I set a quitting time, I make lists for the next day, I refuse to bring home work to grade as my time at home is precious and should be respected for my own sanity. Here is an article I wrote about this mindset shift with my own day job as a teacher.

9. Slow Wake Up (natural light)

Waking up slow has been one of the best things I have ever done. I have talked many times about our Phillips Natural Wake Up Light. Not only do I rarely need an alarm I set myself a time frame to be up and out of bed. Be up and out of bed between 4:00 and 4:30 am. Giving myself time to stretch and feel like I am waking up in a slow fashion. Then this is followed by coffee before the work begins- keeping the morning slow and easy.

Here is an ideal morning routine – and YouTube is full of videos like this if you are looking to re-vamp your morning routine. ** Warning these are not always this perfect. Have I gotten up to the cats ripping open bags of food in the kitchen? Yes. Have the dogs peed inside before? Yes. I am sure the same can be said with kids- perfection in the morning is not the goal. Only a way to feel a little less frenzied and rushed- so that does not carry with you throughout the day.

10. Conversations and Food

Oh man. I am at huge fault for this. While going out to a restaurant I have a personal “No Phone Out” policy, when we are at home I do not. Half the time we eat in front of the TV after a long day. Or I gulp down dinner after the gym to hop in the shower. This is not to judge this in any way- as sometimes a veg out session is needed. However I think with food should come conversation and it is such a needed time to talk about the day.

Charles and I have been getting into the habit of trying to either cook together or walk the dogs together each day just to have a check in for how things are going. This has been helpful for not just our relationship but also for living a mindful life.

Don’t Add- Subtract

Mindfulness is not about adding one more thing to your plate. It is not about forcing or pushing or “doing”. It is about the exact opposite.

The balance to make part of these my reality will also be challenging. Mindfulness is not about adding one more thing to your plate. It is not about forcing or pushing or “doing”. It is about the exact opposite.

Mindfulness is about a mindset to take a minute, check yourself, and say “Hey, a break is ok right now.”.

As much as I say No to things, I also say Yes a few too many times. The point is, if it is a struggle to get out of bed in the morning, if you feel like a robot- you do not have to hustle. This has become my new mantra. That, and calm the F down. Let it go. You do not need to be working all the time or respond right away.

While my body may be able to survive the grind- the day in and day out of constant going and responding and being accessible for all- my soul will not.

What do you do to live a mindful life? Or what do you hope to incorporate more of into your routine?

1 comment

Angela @ Tread Lightly Retire Early December 21, 2018 - 5:17 pm

Okay, I think you may have written this one for me, friend. Doing something extra selfish – especially as a mom – is so freaking difficult. As is taking any kind of pause break. Time for me to get out camping again and away from cell service.


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