How to be a human
Not long ago my husband and I were milling around in the kitchen making breakfast and lunches and preparing for school and work. We looked up and saw our 15 year-old on his computer. My husband took a peek as he walked behind my son’s back—we have “no screens before school” policy as we believe this is the time to connect as a family—and saw to his surprise, my son was not emailing a teacher as he had said, but playing a video game!
Seeing this set my partner and I off—not because we want to micro-manage our 9th grader, but because we feel this is a pivotal time to teach our son how to cultivate healthy life habits that will support him as he prepares to “launch.” We want to instill in him ways of being that help him preserve his “humanness” and mindfulness in the face of a 24/7, speeded-up, outwardly-driven world.
Do you sometimes feel as if you’re a robot rather than a homo sapien? Based on the life balance work I do with men/women around the globe, I’m offering up 7 ways to stay connected to our true nature.
Slow down. We’ve normalized “busy-ness.” Our external world is speeding us up—if we let it—we’re not wired to go non-stop. Get in the practice of “pausing” throughout your day.
Make friends and social connections a priority (lunches, walks, coffee dates). In our house we say, “People first, things second.” Our quality of life is dramatically enhanced by our friendships/circles.
Put technology in its place. Be careful of what you “normalize.” Remember you’re the master (not the slave here). Observe your habits. In our house mornings are unplugged and in the evenings we play quiet music that supports reading and card games. All phones go to “bed” at 8:30 p.m. for the night.
Do nothing. Ever heard the advice, “Don’t just do something, sit there.” Stillness nourishes us to our core. Look at the window. Lie in a hammock. Sit on your front porch or a park bench. Stare into space.
Seek out quiet, dark places. No, not your closet, I’m talking about natural areas in your state or the US where there is limited or no access to technology (like Big Bend National Park); leave your phone at home. Our bodies need these experiences to recalibrate.
Take off your shoes and walk outside. Get barefoot on the earth. Walk as much as you can (it’s so good for your body and brain!). Every day go outside and “commune with nature” for at least 10 minutes.
Give your brain a rest. Do less, think less, keep things simple. The fewer choices/decisions we have, the happier we are. “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”
Drink lots of good clean water and eat more fruits/vegetables. How much energy-infused food do you eat daily? My mom used to advocate for eating food that is alive, as opposed to processed, “dead” food.
Give/receive eight hugs a day. Hugs, back rubs, a.m. and p.m. snuggles, embraces with family at the beginning/end of each day—all these things elicit an incredibly positive biochemical response in the body.
These are all ways of being that are innate to the human experience. They’re hard-wired into who we are. On a cellular level, we know this stuff makes us feel good and helps us remember who we really are, but somehow we’ve lost our way.
We’re living in times that require us to reflect and question everything. Ultimately, I always ask, “How bad do you want to feel good?” Consider that even just adopting one or two of these ideas could make a big impact on how you feel, pretty quickly (read Are you ready to feel good?). Let me know how it goes and send me and my husband good thoughts as we do our best to instill a sense of mindfulness in our teen as he navigates technology and prepares to find his way in our big, wild, crazy, wonderful world.
TAKE ACTION: I’m a nature evangelist and create beautiful 1/2, one-day and weekend custom retreats that are centered around the natural world. I’d love to design/facilitate a custom work-life balance workshop for your leadership team or organization in 2017-2018. Learn more about my clients/read feedback (and email me at info at reneetrudeau dot com) or join me for one of my public upcoming self-renewal retreats. (Psst our June 23-25 New Way of Being: Women’s Self-Renewal Kripalu retreat will celebrate the summer solstice–join us!)
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by life balance speaker/author and mindfulness teacher Renée Peterson Trudeau. Offering life balance workshops/retreats, training, books/telecourses and individual career coaching Renee’s work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Spirituality & Health and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-renewal group based on her award-winning curriculum. She is the author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 15-year-old son. More on her background here.