Noise, Constant Noise

Noisy honestly doesn’t begin to describe the world we live in. Constant social media notifications, emails, calls and texts, never ending negative news, and modern day metropolis consume our our attention. We live in a world of physical, mental, and emotional noise.

I’ve come to realize over the past 6 months that the more connected I am to the things that create noise in my life, the more disconnected I am from reality.

Social media, is the largest source of noise in my life.  I know I am not the only one who feels this way. Social media lends to the perception that others’ lives are better than our own. Reality is that life will always have ups and downs. The current trend in our world is to view everyone’s highlights on social media and then compare it to our day to day monotony or moments that are less than perfect. We have our own highlights, but our perception is so disconnected from reality that our focus is on the comparison of our lives to others’, not on the whole picture.

I’ve also come to realize how much of my stress stems from the news. I don’t believe in being completely uninformed with what is going on in the world, however, I also don’t need to absorb the negativity of the news on a daily basis. As someone who is highly empathetic, it is difficult for me to watch harsh realities multiple times, especially in cases where I have no power or control to improve those situations. It wears on my emotions and therefore wears on my ability to stay focused and centered throughout the day. 

I also struggle with the expectation to be in constant communication with others via email and text messages. There is an unhealthy and unrealistic expectation to answer every ping as quickly as possible. If you are always answering to forms of communication then you are never present in the moment. You are allowing your life to pass you by in order to appease someone else’s expectations.

It’s no secret that over time, all of these forms of noise will leave you drained. When does it end? Where will we draw the line?  Bottom line, focusing on noise means I’m not focusing on my purpose!  Almost everyone I know talks about being anxious and overwhelmed. In the past I have spent an excessive amount of time and energy focusing on this anxiety. Striving to live intentionally is changing my focus away from the symptoms of anxiety, and instead to my daily actions that contribute to it.

I have found a few antidotes to help shut out the noise so that my soul can recharge:

  1. freestocks-org-139132I read a book for 15 mins in the morning while I drink my coffee instead ofwatching the news. Sometimes I read a devotional, sometimes a blog, and sometimes a personal growth book. I find that not allowing anything negative into my mind first thing, helps me to set the day off on a positive foot and helps me stay centered throughout the day.
  2. I installed an app  on my phone called Moment, that tracks my screen time daily. If you start tracking something then you raise awareness of your actions and this almost always helps decrease your consumption. I will admit, I still have room to improve in this area, but  progress and awareness are the goal, not perfection.
  3. I moved Facebook and Instagram to the last page of apps on my phone. It takes me more time to get to those apps now. This way I am choosing to get on them rather than accessing them out of habit.
  4. I will do a 48 hour social media detox from time to time. Every once in a while, taking a couple of days to disconnect completely helps me to refocus. Deleting the apps from my phone helps me not to fall into the habit of checking social media out of boredom.
  5. I spend at least 5 minutes on my lunch break in either prayer or meditation.  Shutting ben-white-132978 my mind off for a few minutes in the middle of the day allows me to refocus and relax.
  6. I’ve started doing a few short sessions of yoga per week. I use the Down Dog app and I really like it. You can select the difficulty of your practice as well as the length of the practice. If you are a beginner, like me, then you will appreciate the pictures and spoken guidance that the app gives.
  7. I set really clear boundaries with myself as to what time to shut the tv off at night and go to sleep. Rest is crucial for our productivity and our emotional stability. We all know this, yet it can evade us at times. Continued noise is the last thing that we need to wrap up our day.

I hope that you will give some thought to what the loudest noises are in your life. What small steps can you take to quiet your world and let your soul recharge?  I love hearing what others find valuable and what creates a quiet, and purposeful life for them.

Gratitude is a Chosen Attitude

Gratitude grants us the ability to shape our perception of the world around us and empowers us to experience life through a different lens. When we live in a first world society, where we have everything we could ever need, then we tend to become unaware of our blessings (I saw this ad recently that is a perfect representation of our first world way of thinking). We never feel the pain of going without so we take much for granted. We also focus on what is missing instead of what is in front of us.

At times I find myself annoyed with the upkeep of my house. Life gets busy and there often seem too few hours in the day.  I don’t particularly enjoy spending an hour ridding my home of pet hair and  I don’t particularly enjoy dusting, washing dishes, and putting away laundry. I can think of more enjoyable ways to be spending my time. But when I pause and look at the big picture, I think of all of the people on this earth that would gladly trade places with me. I guarantee you that a complaint, like mine, would never cross the lips of a person that has lived the past year of their life in a refugee camp or living on the streets.  With these thoughts I  become aware of my lack of gratitude, and for that I feel ashamed. I think about how blessed I am to own any home at all and how blessed I am to have a fur babies worth cleaning up after. I think of how many women bend over a stream to wash their children’s clothes or dishes by hand. I find myself thinking that some people never sweep their floor  because they have floors of dirt.

As I shift my thoughts and put into perspective the things I’m annoyed by, I am overcome with gratitude. My entire perception of cleaning shifts. I don’t feel annoyed by the expense of my time, instead I am overwhelmed by gratitude for the life I am able to live, even when every moment of it may not be pleasant. We take for granted so many things that we are blessed to have in this day and age. The great news is that we can shift our negative and ungrateful thoughts. We can choose to see every moment of our lives with a heart of gratitude instead.

What have you taken for granted today? Are you annoyed by your commute to work? How blessed you are to have transportation and employment. You are tired of wearing the same shirt? How amazing that you have clothes to wear on a daily basis. Was the line at Starbucks too long?  How lucky you are to afford a cup of  specialty coffee. Perspective is everything! One thought at a time we can shift our perception of our world from negative to positive.

Changing our habits of thinking can be difficult.  In the past I  found myself constantly in a state of want and not being in touch with what I currently have. I am in no short supply of possessions, relationships, or experiences that I should be overwhelmingly grateful for. Starting a gratitude journal helped me to focus my thoughts on my blessings. I wrote down just 3 things a day that I was grateful for.  It took me less than 3 minutes and it put my mind in a positive position for the start of the day. If you struggle with changing your thought patterns, then I encourage you to give it a try. I love being able to look back at the blessings that have poured into my life over the past weeks and months.

Today I am grateful to you reader. I am grateful that you are willing to read my thoughts and maybe even share yours with me in return. I am grateful for my ability to shift my perspective. I am grateful to exist with purpose today and every day.

Purposefully Exist

Purposeful existence is living a life of deep meaning. Living each day with intention. Identifying your values and beliefs. Choosing deliberately the people, companies, and causes that you support. Leaving a legacy for the ones you love. Chasing your passions instead of a dollar. Running full speed after the desires of your heart. Being unapologetically authentic. Spending your resources: time, money, and energy on people and causes that align with your values and beliefs. 
Living a purposeful existence means you embrace life with vigor and tenacity, dreaming of better tomorrows. Finding adventure, even if only in your back yard and even if only for five minutes. Creating a better world. Embracing differences of others. Contributing beyond yourself and seeking growth opportunities that stretch you. Living a grateful life. 
Living a purposeful existence means living with no regrets. Harmonizing the good with the bad. Experiencing emotions fully. Appreciating learning lessons. Forgiving the ones who have wronged you, and forgiving yourself. Praying and meditating. Listening to your body and nourishing it properly. Moving your body in ways that bring you joy.
Living a purposeful existence means being aware of the world you live in. Protecting our planet and its inhabitants, empathizing with all beings. Experiencing the awe of the intricate world we live in.
Today and everyday I hope that you exist purposefully. I hope that you make small, but intentional choices that will compound into the life you’ve always wanted. And more than anything, I hope you find contentment in who you are and the life you are choosing to live.