Certain habits can help us find serenity and maintain balance throughout the day, even in difficult times as the ones we live in
These are activities that you can do in a short time or that require only a little discipline to then become automatic habits.
It is not always easy to find happiness in these times. Yet there are some things you can do every day to improve your life and try to be serene. To be well, in short.
The list is not exhaustive-as usual-but it is a collection of things that I personally do or try to do daily or often that help me a lot to find balance.
I hope they succeed with you, too.
The benefits that come from simple breathing exercises are abundantly documented. A few minutes a day can enable you to control states of anxiety and stress and create a more relaxed and reflective state of mind.
It really is a matter of committing very little time to have incredible results and noticeable well-being. Why don’t you try it?
This is an invitation rather than a suggestion: meditating is not something that comes very naturally to do, or let’s say it is a path that requires patience and perseverance (a bit like running, if you think about it). So I’m not telling you to do it like I might tell you to walk or put the moka on the stove but rather I’m saying, think about it.
Meditation has nothing to do with new age things or spirituality. It is often represented that way or is associated with that universe, but in truth it is a very physical and bodily activity (which has, of course, also a very important mental component) based on breathing and perceiving present time.
If done consistently, it brings incalculable benefits to your life: happiness, ability to evaluate with serenity, imperturbability to accidents, positive outlook on the future.
I cannot explain how to do it here and in a few words, so I will just recommend two apps that can guide you in your first steps in meditation: Petit Bambou and the excellent Balance.
Its practice requires longer sessions than the breathing exercises I mentioned earlier but the results are incredible. And still we’re talking about 10 to 15 minutes a day to have benefits, not a big deal in the end!
3. Having discipline
People often confuse routine with boredom, while repeating the same things every day can have another name-I call it discipline. It means having motivation and constancy in applying certain rituals that are meaningful to us. It means making commitments and sticking to them (such as running a certain number of times a week).
In the unpredictability of life, repeating certain actions succeeds in giving your mind the perception of being in control of something very important. Much of what happens to us escapes us and is chaotic, but there is an order we can create and govern: that about the activities we do, how we do them and how consistently we do them.
4. Doing one thing at a time
The myth of multitasking and the chaotic nature of modern times have convinced us that to be productive we need to do so many things at once. I don’t randomly speak of “myth”: only computers can do this, while humans are monotasking, even when they think they are handling multiple things. They can inevitably do (well) one and only one at a time.
Yet this myth endures and leads us to overlap things, resulting in doing none of them well. I often repeat that the only tip do many things is: “Simple: do them one at a time.”
The mind has a beautiful gratification mechanism: when it completes something it is happy. If you tackle the things on your to-do list one at a time, it will be gratified each time you complete one of them. If you deal with them at the same time, you will conclude none or almost none, and it will feel terrible about it. Shall we love it a little bit now and then?
Of course, you’d think: on Runlovers, what could they be talking about if not running? However, I thought I would include running in this list for a specific reason: to remind people that it is a pleasure and not a duty. It is certainly a pleasure that can sometimes cost effort, but it is still an activity that makes you feel better. Running requires discipline, effort and organizational skills, but its sole purpose is not just to maintain physical fitness: it is, above all, a way to produce well-being.
Walking-whether you do it for practical reasons (moving from one place to another) or for the activity itself (walking for the sake of it, in short)-has multiple benefits. The physical ones are well known: it keeps you fit, regulates blood pressure and fortifies the cardiovascular system, and promotes intestinal motility.
The ones we are interested in, however, are more mental, partly because we are mainly talking about that kind of well-being: the kind that comes from serenity.
And walking can really do a lot in this respect. Out of all of them I choose one, and that is what I call “the awakening of the mind.” Indeed, it has been proven that when we spend many hours in the same place where few things happen, the mind tends to become drowsy and apathetic. Which is not the case when the space around us is constantly changing, such as during a walk.
Especially those who work in offices or studios are convinced that they are productive just sitting at their desks and that walking would instead waste their time. Instead, it is precisely by walking that they can come up with new ideas, not indoors in the office!
7. Remove the clock after a certain time
The problem is not not having time but measuring it too often. Having many things to do, we are all inclined to frequently check what time it is in order to organize the day and fit in commitments and appointments.
Until a certain time of day, it is inevitable to have to know what time it is but after dinner and when relaxing, it is a good habit to disregard the clock or even remove it. It is also a signal for our mind to understand that from that moment on it can do what it wants and not what it has to do.
The ancient Romans called it “otium,” and it was the opposite of “negotium.” The translation into “idleness” does not do it justice, because over time this word has acquired a negative meaning. Perhaps it is our overly productivity-oriented culture that gave that to it because in Roman times idleness was a very noble thing. It meant doing nothing actively, it is true, but in a particular way: of listening to external stimuli, which often resulted in activities that were not productive in material or economic terms but very much from an intellectual and spiritual point of view, such as writing, conversing, engaging in art.
So the idleness I recommend you is not laziness but a different time: that of reading, curiosity, caring for pastimes or human relationships.
In fact, idleness is also a time when the mind is very active as it is stimulated. And the vibrancy it achieves will also benefit practical, working and economic life.
9. Making an apple pie
It may sound like a joke, but in this case apple pie is a symbol: it serves to signify any manual action that requires concentration. Being focused on something paradoxically allows you to make room for thoughts.
Our minds are constantly crowded with things to do, commitments, stimuli and emotions referring to the present time but also to the future.
When you bring it to focus on one thing, suddenly other more pleasant thoughts make room for themselves, which usually sit quietly, overwhelmed by more urgent things.
In short, you will find that doing something material that you like to do helps you think differently, especially about those things you love to think about.
As mentioned at the beginning, this is an incomplete list, and it is incomplete for a specific reason: that it awaits your advice.