Finding Joy in the Mundane

Everyday Solutions to Create a More Joyful Life

Finding joy is something we all want more of in our lives. From day to day it’s easy to find ourselves falling into a routine that no longer excites us. Driving the same route to work day after day gets boring and mundane. We forget to observe the beautiful arching birch trees that line our path or even notice the mountain range that peeks out on a nice sunny day. By taking time to notice these simple pleasures you have the power to turn the mundane into the extraordinary. 

Here are 5 ways you can use your ordinary routine to find joy.

  1. Stop Waiting to be Happy

Sometimes it seems as though we are waiting for something to be happy about. We forget that every moment is an opportunity to be happy. 

Negative thoughts breed more negative thoughts, so we begin to replace joy with anger. 

We all know that person who can be in a room full of laughter and be pissed off in the corner. You might even try to include this person and they just attempt to bring you down with their negative take on the situation. They have decided that they need a reason to be happy. How can they possibly be happy when…

  • They have back pain
  • Their marriage fell apart
  • They have cancer
  • They lost their job

Whatever negative thoughts they focus on quite literally steal their happiness; they’re unaware of all the joy that surrounds them.

We’ve all been guilty of this on some level. We’ve let our ego keep us focused on what we don’t have. But the reality is that you can begin to feel happier, more productive, and successful right now just by focusing on what you do have. Your thinking changes your perspective which is awesome! It means you can start creating joy in your life right now just by deciding to.

  1. Appreciate the Little Things

My honey-bunny cooks dinner for me almost every night. It’s not something that has ever been discussed or talked about. He’s just the family cook. After 13 years together I’ve gotten used to being spoiled and forget how nice it is that I don’t need to think about dinner night after night. He carries that burden for us. I will note that both he and I enjoy his cooking much more than we like mine, but that doesn’t mean his seamless effort should go without thanks. 

Maybe you too are enjoying the efforts of someone lightening your load. Or maybe it’s taking time to appreciate all of the conveniences of modern-day life –Things that are done for us without us even realizing. 

  • Doors slide open for you as you approach
  • Traffic lights keep us running on a smooth schedule
  • Your cell phone carries all the information you could ever need
  • Your refrigerator that keeps your food from spoiling
  • Hot water when you take a shower

Start a list of the little things in your life that deserve appreciation and start thanking people and things for helping support you through this journey.

  1. Take Care of Yourself

I don’t know what it is about self-care that people are so resistant to. The guilt that comes along with a spa day is sometimes more stressful than worth it. The fact of the matter is that when you take care of yourself you have more to give out to those around you. Motivational speaker Lisa Nichols has a quote I love… 

“Your job is to fill your own cup, so it overflows. Then you can serve others, joyfully, from your saucer”

The idea is to fill your own cup first.

If you struggle with self-care I suggest making a list of all the things you have to do and then deciding what on the list is major and what is minor. Then you can clear space in your mind for indulging in an afternoon off instead of spending the whole time thinking about the laundry or cleaning the bathroom. 

  1. Don’t Worry so Much

I know this is a tough one. How can you stop yourself from worrying about all the things? Practice, that’s how. If you’re stuck in traffic and keep looking from the road to the time and with each passing minute you’re worried about how late you will be to work, or dinner, or the kids’ activities, you can’t help but worry. In an era of cell phones, you can let people know you’re running late. 

It really is that simple. 

What tends to happen though is even after you’ve let everyone know what’s happening you are still fixated on getting there on time. 

What if you start training yourself to give over to the moment? 

Calls have been made and you will arrive when you arrive. Imagine yourself showing up calm and ready instead of late and frazzled. If you start to train yourself to worry less you will find yourself worrying less. Then when you’re running late you can know this is not a personal reflection on who you are as a person, but a circumstance you are in. 

  1. Practice Breathwork!

A daily practice of functional breathing is simple…not easy. Taking 5 minutes to sit yourself down and focus on nothing but your breath helps pull your mind out of the body. This offers you a break from the daily lists and scenarios that swirl around in your head. For 5 minutes you have the opportunity to just feel your body expand and contract. 

In five minutes you can turn your whole day around. By rebalancing your nervous system you are able to remain calm and in the flow of life even when things get hectic. And when you are coming from a calm place it’s easier to notice the joy that surrounds you. It also helps you build a better relationship with your body and intuition. 

When life feels mundane, learn to look for joy. True happiness lies here in our everyday experiences. 

I’m not suggesting that every moment needs to be happy and joyful, but I am saying that joy surrounds you at any given moment. 

Even when life feels like a pressure cooker there are lessons to be learned and reasons to find joy. It’s all a matter of how we choose to view the situation. 

I hope this list offers you an opening to joy the next time you find yourself stuck in the endless mundane of your everyday life. 

Fall Into Yourself This Autumn

Time to Slow Down and Reflect

Did you know that your lungs are associated with sadness and grief? According to Chinese Medicine, each of your organs is connected to an emotion. Although sorrow comes in many forms, all sadness and grief can be associated with change. 

Change in…

  • Relationships
  • Status
  • Lifestyle
  • Employment

When you are grieving or sad these emotions are held in your lungs, making them weak. In steps the large intestine, associated with letting go. Together these two organs can help you process hard emotions and breathe through the process of letting them go. 

Fall seems the appropriate time for this internal reflection. We see the rich beauty of nature showcasing how lovely the process can be. Trees spend their summer pushing nutrients out to their leaves and producing fruit. As the season turns to Fall the trees begin to slow their output of nutrients to the leaves, focusing more on what’s happening internally, their leaves turn and eventually fall.

So too must we do this internal reflection: Using nature as our reminder of how nice it is to let go. Knowing that the fall of this year’s leaves is not the end of the tree, but rather just part of the process of growth and renewal. 

You can support your lungs and large intestines by slowing down. Allowing yourself to feel the deep, hard emotions with the knowledge that it is completely normal. Understanding that these emotions are not who you are and don’t need to control your life. These emotions are a gift that holds a candle to where we need to reflect and let go.

Whether your grief or sadness is small or big it’s important to give yourself space to allow and reflect. Processing these emotions is a way to help you let go of them. 

Start externally. Take time to de-clutter your home or workspace. Get rid of those old clothes that don’t fit. Create space for the new and unexpected to grow. 

When you are feeling any kind of sorrow your breath naturally becomes more shallow. You begin to take quick short breaths high into your ribcage. Just think of the last time you cried. You can almost feel yourself breathing in this manner. Not good. 

It’s natural for our bodies to do this, but unnatural for us to stay in this panicked and high-intensity breath pattern. When you are working through hard emotions and letting go, this is bound to be the case. 

A great way to slow the breath is by following your breath in for 4 counts and out for 8. Or whatever number works for you. The point is to breathe out longer than you are breathing in. 

Letting go is how you heal. Use your lungs as the medicine to heal your sorrow. 

Healing allows you to let go of the dismissive. Taking the time to look inside takes self-compassion. How often have we been told that we must serve others? That the needs of everyone else should come before our own healing? This leads to more sadness, grief, and overwhelm.

Fall is an opportunity to go deep within and find acceptance of yourself. Advocating for your needs, and holding to your boundaries. 

Deep healing is about embracing your own sensitivity. Letting go is about letting other people’s energy and emotions be just that. You are not in charge of how anyone else feels, you are only responsible for your own feelings. And you cannot give out if you yourself are not full. Over-giving without analyzing and reflecting on what you need to let go of leads to mental illness and leaves you feeling sick and powerless. 

Fall is a reminder that you are not broken when all your leaves begin to fall. Emotions are yours for a reason. They are meant to guide you and remind you that you are in fact still human. Emotions are what they are. 

  • You’re the one who assigns meaning to them. 
  • You’re the one giving them power. 
  • You’re the one that builds a story of who you are or are not around them. 
  • You’re the one who associates them to a person or trait.
  • You’re the one that determines how they affect your life.

Emotions are a gift. They help you understand and hear signals from your body. They are here to give you depth and connect you to your body and experiences. 

Fall teaches us to find balance within. Your nervous system is constantly seeking balance and your lungs are the highway to that balance. 

We have fallen out of balance because so many of us are afraid to connect to our emotional bodies. We have become accustomed to feeling out of balance thinking it’s an easier road than looking at hard felt emotions. Emotions that lay dormant in our lungs. 

When you decide to consciously breathe deeply into your body, you start a conversation back to self. Breathing deep into your lungs unclogs passageways that have been burdened with grief and begins to shake them loose. Allowing you the insight to start to redirect the energy in a more mindful way. Breathing through the mud can be scary and revealing, but isn’t that also a part of fall? It isn’t until the tree lets go and sits barren through the winter that we can see the life of spring appear on its branches. 

4×8 Breathing Practice

  • Find a comfortable seat or feel free to do it while lying in bed. If you are in a chair be sure your back is free from any support and your feet are firmly planted on the ground. 
  • Let your spine be long but not rigid. 
  • Soften your gaze and bring your focus to your breath.
  • Taking a moment to settle in by focusing on your natural inhales and exhales.
  • After a couple rounds begin to control the flow by inhaling to the count of 4.
  • Slowly exhale through a controlled count of 8. The goal is to be empty as you hit 8 and not before. Completely clearing out old stagnant air from your lungs. 
  • Repeat breathing in for 4 and out for 8 for 10 rounds.
  • Noticing your mind slow as your thoughts stay centered around the steady slow flow of air moving in and out.

Breath and Belonging

Using your Breath to find True Belonging

We are at a crossroads in our society. It appears that everyone is stretched between the desperate need to fit in and belong and the deep inner knowing that sets them apart. We are presented with so much information on a daily basis that it’s hard to focus on any one thing and find our own place of belonging. True belonging can’t be bought or earned. True belonging is belonging to yourself. And your breath can guide you to that inner peace. 

Keeping up with the Jones is a part of your heritage. Every ad you see tells you that your life will be better if you use this product or buy this thing. 

And you fall for it!

You try to break free from these chains and then end up losing yourself in being anti-whatever. But that’s not you either. This is a real problem. This constant looking outside of yourself while knowing the answers remains buried inside your soul. 

Inward motion

Looking inside is scary. It means you are taking responsibility for what you find. There’s no one else to blame when you’re dealing with yourself. There’s no easy framework or how-to guide that helps lay a foundation for where that story goes. And that is freakin scary!

You have been raised in a society that has told you time and time again that vulnerability is bad and shameful. A society that has told you that what you think and feel might not be right. That you should look to an outside source for the answers. Looking to those around you to see what the standard is. 

We keep each other bound by the expectations of our neighbors and friends. We want to appear that all is okay even if we are dying on the inside. This is apparent now more than ever. 

All the choices you’re presented with on a daily basis are paralyzing. With so many directions laid out before you, how could you possibly choose? And what if you chose wrong?

Consumption of information is killing our creative thinking. 

We have no way of knowing what is real or not. 

  • Is something real because you read it on the Internet? 
  • Is it real because your teacher told you? 
  • Is it true because you were raised to believe it? 

Everything you believe to be true or not can be debunked and belittled by someone. So how do you know what to believe and where to turn for guidance?

The short answer: There is no road map.

You must discern for yourself what resonates with your soul. What feels right and brings you peace. No one else can do that for you. No one else should. You must connect to your inner knowing and that is how you belong. 

Belonging

The incomparable Brene Brown has a mantra, “I belong to me.”

When I first heard her say this in an interview with Lewis Howes on the School of Greatness podcast it just hit. Like so much of Brene’s work, it resonates truth. It felt uncomfortable and was hard to sit with because it means I have work to do. 

You have work to do.

There are so many educators out there that can help guide you to a place of belonging. It is your job to find the ones that resonate with you. Not because it’s what you want to hear but because the message feels like growth and understanding. One of the fastest and easiest ways to connect to others is to first find a connection within yourself. That takes work.

You’re not going to find any system outside of yourself that is a perfect fit, but you will find guides and teachers on a similar path that can point you in the right direction so you can continue to belong to yourself. 

Once you belong to yourself you will be comfortable being uncomfortable. Using your breath you can break through the chains of uncertainty and lack. You can breathe into a life of abundance because you will feel at ease in your skin. 

Breathing

The reason your breath is a powerful guide is that it is the connection between the inner and outer world. It gives you a focus that allows you to shut out the external with time and practice. Awakening you to a deeper connection to self because you are inside. Breathing into sensations you haven’t felt and subtly moving energy around opens you up to yourself. To a deep knowing of what is the right path for you. 

The struggles remain. You still have to decide to breathe through challenging situations and conversations. Life is still going to offer an endless stream of information that changes daily. The difference is that now you have a tool to guide you into discernment. A tool that can be used to help you clarify and identify your true nature to yourself. 

You belong to yourself. Your breath belongs to you, it is a gift you share with the world. Because at the end of the day we are all connected, so it is impossible to not belong. At the end of the day, you get to decide and create your own path. This is an awesome responsibility that breaks you free from lack and into true belonging. 

Breath Practice

One of my favorite breathing practices is Heart Coherent Breathing. It is so simple that it is often overlooked. But as we know sometimes the simplest things are the most challenging to do. 

  • Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position, or if on a chair move away from any back support so you can have a straight spine. Plant your feet on the floor, a hip-width distance apart.
  • Round your shoulders back and let your chest feel open.
  • Tuck your chin slightly.
  • Soften or close your eyes.
  • Bring your attention to your breath. Make no effort to change your breath pattern, simply notice it.
  • Begin to slow the breath by inhaling to the count of 5, and exhaling to the count of 5.
  • Bring your attention to the inhale. Feel the breath flow in through your heart center. 
  • Exhale and notice the breath leaving your heart center. 
  • Do 10 rounds of breathing like this, focused on your heart. If it feels good you can place your hands over your heart to help keep your focus and attention there. 
  • After 10 rounds or so let the 5×5 pattern go and continue to breathe with ease keeping your attention inside. 

This simple and effective practice can be done anytime day or night for clarity. I recommend starting by just practicing the steps above. After you feel more comfortable keeping your attention internal and your breath and heart you can add a question for clarity or intention. You will be amazed at the things your heart and breath begin to open up to you in these subtle moments when you truly belong to yourself. 

Continuing to Breathe through this ongoing pandemic

A year and a half in and still we struggle to breathe

How are you handling all your big pandemic feelings? Are you still using caution? Or do you find the summer sun and great outdoors has you hiding less and less behind a mask? New variants are using the summer travel season to make their way around our great nation and it appears no one is showing up to help you breathe through this pulmonary attack!

Frustration continues to rise all around. Everyone has a strong opinion about EVERYTHING!

  • To get vaccinated or not 
  • To wear masks or not 
  • To Travel or not 
  • To live with caution or throw it to the wind
  • To trust or not trust our medical system
  • To believe science or not 

No matter where you stand on these issues, the only truth I see is that they are all here to stay. At least for the unforeseen future. 

Truthfully I’m nervous about this fall. I see spikes starting to happen all around me. As someone who helps people to breathe, I find the attack on our lungs to be a huge problem. 

The Nose is for Breathing, The Mouth is for Eating

Your nose is the amazing filter built right into your body. When you breathe through your nose you are filtering out harmful toxins in the environment. Your nasal cavity also produces nitric oxide (NO). NO increases blood flow through your lungs and boosts oxygen levels in the blood. When you breathe through your nose NO goes directly into your lungs. Breathing through the nose produces higher oxygen into your bloodstream and helps you feel healthier and have more endurance and the ability to fight off more disease. 

We are terrible about breathing through our noses. Many are breathing through their mouths and taking in toxins that should be filtered out. Our mouths are made to take in and absorb, so this creates a real problem. 

The role of nitric oxide in the body

NO is a natural gas produced by almost every cell in your body and has three principal actions.

  1. Dilates the pulmonary arteries and increases blood flow through the lungs
  2. Dilates the airways and increases oxygen delivered to the lungs and blood
  3. Inhibits the growth and spread of disease in the lungs. 

There is a belief that NO has a direct antiviral effect. You can read more about that here.

View your nose as your first line of defense against any toxins floating through your environment. Your nasal cavity is filtering them out. When you breathe through your mouth you are inviting everything in your environment in.

The best thing you can do to help you stay as healthy and safe as possible during this pandemic is to practice breathing through your nose. It truly is a powerful way to fight off a viral infection.

Breathing in a Mask

Masks are making our breathing worse! More and more people are training themselves to breathe through their mouths once the mask goes on. They have a false belief that the mask is preventing them from breathing. This might only have some truth if the mask you are wearing is cotton. But surgical masks are 100% breathable. 

I know a lot of people who hate wearing anything that fits closely around their necks. They feel as though the turtleneck or choker necklace is physically restricting their breath. This isn’t true, but it’s a common feeling. The same goes for wearing a mask. We see it as restrictive because it is (hopefully) covering both our natural breathing devices. 

The truth is most of us have a CO2 (carbon dioxide) deficiency issue. The air isn’t being limited to you with a mask on, but you might tend to not breathe as deeply or you might start to panic decrease the amount of gas in your blood (CO2), causing you to feel lightheaded and short of breath. Your brain starts to think “I can’t breathe!” But you can, you just need to take a nice deep inhale through your nose and calm your nervous system down.

Try and see your mask as a training device. Every time you put in on you can work on consciously breathing. Inhaling in the nose and exhaling out the mouth. 

You can adjust to breathing in a mask by playing a game

One trick I like to do when I realize I’m mouth breathing in my mask is to close my mouth and do this trick. Inhaling through the nose and exhaling out the mouth. I feel like I can breathe more naturally this way. 

You can also play a game with yourself in lines. I consciously breathe in and out through the nose while in line at the grocery store. I like to guess how many rounds of breath it will take before I get to the cashier. You can also add a count in and out as you go. Inhaling for a 5 count, exhaling for a 5 count.

Home Alone

When you are in your home and safe from all the toxins of the outside world, work on consciously breathing in and out through the nose. Get in the habit of strengthening this filter so you can better protect yourself against disease while out and about in the world. 

Your nose is designed to help ward off disease, so help your system along and practice breathing in and out through your nose.

The deeper you breathe the more oxygen and blood flow to all your cells. This helps to aid in keeping you healthy and fit. 5 minutes of conscious breathing a day can make a huge impact on how you survive this pandemic.