Spring Intentions

Today was the first day in a long time that made me feel as though spring is truly on its way. I’ve never really been spring’s biggest fan (blame it on the impending and inevitable three weeks of seasonal allergies), but given the last few months of bitter cold and icy winter, I felt a genuine sense of relief and joy for today’s balmy weather.

Naturally, the transition into spring engenders images of rebirth, rejuvenation, and an overall lightness of being. In an effort to embrace that sense of freshness and novelty, I am focusing on a handful of spring intentions; not so much resolutions, but more everyday decisions I hope to be mindful of.

Connect without reservations
It’s easy to assume that everyone is so busy and lost in their own lifestyles that they can’t possible have time to sit down for tea or grab lunch. It’s even easier to believe that everyone around you is leading a more vibrant, interesting life than yours, which happens to be filled with far too many marathon viewings on Netflix. When everyone starts to feel that way, it makes it hard to reach out and make connections because you already anticipate rejection. Instead, I want to reacquaint myself with old friends, make new ones, and incorporate more meaningful connections often.

Last week, I spent a week in Jamaica with some of my closest friends. Considering we were in a different country and that all of our friends were with each other, most of us didn’t have access to texting, checking emails, and using social media. Going a full week without using any web medium was difficult at first, but after a few days, I realized how much more time I had when I wasn’t spending hours on the internet or checking my phone. Obviously being back at school means I need to use my phone and laptop, but I hope to unplug more frequently and reap all its benefits.

Create with my hands
I do my best to get my share of physical activity on a regular basis, but there is something very unique and satisfying about engaging your hands in an activity. Kneading cookie dough, gardening, or even just tossing around a baseball. These activities target your hands and work the intricate muscles within them. Try any one of them; it definitely beats typing away at a keyboard.

Practicing Mindfulness

It’s easy to get caught up in the pessimistic, fatalistic tendencies of today. With all the news coverage on natural disasters, political strife, and international conflicts, it’s difficult to maintain a sense of silver lining. Despite the challenge, it’s important to keep perspective and be mindful for all we should be thankful. Especially with Thanksgiving and the holidays just around the corner, I’m reminded to be grateful for all I do have and to do my best in sharing my blessings.

Everyday, small acts of kindness make an enormous impact, and practicing mindfulness is paramount to making those small daily adjustments that can not only enrich your life but the lives of those around you. They can be as simple as saying thank you to the barista who makes your morning coffee or holding the door open for someone even if they’re a little out of the way. With our hectic schedules, we’re all apt to go on autopilot and make excuses for not being genuinely present in our own lives. By doing so, we cheat ourselves from enjoying every moment and experiencing life as it is. We become accustomed to the routines and daily responsibilities that we don’t even notice the beautiful day or that someone needs our care. We’re so busy with tasks and stresses that we are literally absent from our own lives.

I’ve found that practicing mindfulness doesn’t have to be difficult, or even something that takes enormous effort. Mindfulness is the ability to enjoy a moment with awareness and without prejudice. There are various methods of achieving this, but these are a few small changes I’ve implemented in my own life that have brought about some eye-opening rewards.

1. Smile.
It’s the most simple, yet often forgotten gesture that is enormously influential. You never know what kind of day the other person may be having, but your offering a smile can brighten both yours and their day. There’s even scientific evidence to back the claim that smiling makes you happier, better looking, and more likely to put others in a better mood. 

2. Listen to music and do nothing else. 
Let it be whatever genre you love – just don’t do anything but enjoy the music. We’re usually working out to music or studying to it, but rarely do we take the time to simply listen to the verses, the instruments, and the harmonies that comprise the music. I grew up as a pianist and violinist, so I listen to a lot of classical pieces when I need a break from all the hubbub and noise in life. Letting yourself mentally wander to your favorite tunes can help center and de-stress your mind.

3. Take a break from multi-tasking.
As the Multitasking Generation, or genM, we’re often found emailing, texting, skimming the news, and doing our homework simultaneously. Despite our belief that our brains are capable of concentrating on all those activities at once, the truth is that we’re not one hundred percent focused on any of them; instead, we’re toggling back and forth from one to another. So close the laptop and give your full attention when your friend is talking to you, or put down the phone at dinner and be mindful of engaging in the present. This is my greatest personal challenge, but by focusing on one task at a time, I am a better listener and am able to take a more active role in my life.