Sunday, January 27, 2013

Silver Linings: Gratitude in the shower

Silver Linings is a series of posts that aims at infusing your day with little moments of joy, gratitude and indulgence. These little nuggets can contribute to improve your happiness in the current moment, which - together with a vision of your future - result in your best performance and helps you to achieve "flow" (or getting in the "zone").

A post on taking a moment for gratitude in the shower? You might wonder what happened to this academic blog... But bear with me for a moment, and I'll show you how you can use your shower to start or end your day with a positive thought.

Most likely, you don't even pay a moment of attention to your actual shower. You let the water pour, lather on soap, and at the same time, your mind wanders and is either past-tripping (worrying about something you said or did, or didn't say or do yet) or future-tripping (planning ahead, thinking of everything you still need to do, worrying about future events,..).

But as an academic, you already spend 90% (or more) of your time with your brain. Your body gets much less attention.

So, what if you could spend some time to connect with your body, and think positive, grateful thoughts - while doing an activity you are doing anyway? Here's a few ways to do so:

1. Sensation

For a moment, mute your thinking and amplify your sensing. Sense the feeling of the hot water, sense the texture of the soap. Smell the fragrance of the product that you are using. Look at yourself, and understand the privilege of having a healthy body. Listen to the sound of the water pouring down.

2. Awareness 

Try to sync your mind with your actions. Instead of embarking on a trip to the past or future, simply observe what you are doing, and bring your awareness to the now.

3. Kindness to your body

As your brain is the major player in your life, it is important not to neglect your body. Too often we only notice our bodies when something isn't working well, which could impact our academic work then. You can compare this to a computer, a machine that we expect to perform its tasks, without needing any maintenance, and of which we only notice how much we depend on it when it malfunctions. 

So, while you are doing physical activity, take a moment to consciously connect to your body, treat it kindly and cherish your health.

4. Gratitude for products

Take a moment to pay attention to your soap:

- if it's the cheapest soap from the store: realize that buying cheap helps you to avoid (further) student debt. By not indulging in unnecessary luxury, you are taking control of your financial situation - one tiny bit at a time.

- if it's a fancy soap you splurged on: be fully aware that this expense was worth the extra money, provided that you genuinely enjoy the experience of using it.

- if it was a gift: take a moment to smile, and remember when you received it. As a bonus: write a short note during the day to the person from whom you got the gift to tell them you enjoy using it - and take a moment to catch up with him/her.

- if it's from a hotel: remember the good times you spent traveling for a conference - a privilege not all young professionals experience.

Have you tried applying these techniques? Share your experiences in the comments!

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