Guest Writer for Wake Up World
Do you remember how carefree and alive you felt a kid? How you would leap out of bed every morning, brimming with excitement for the day ahead?
You were joyful for no reason and your enthusiasm for life knew no bounds.
For most of us, the experience of uncaused joy, inner freedom and zest for life fades into the background as we grow older — as we are thrust into the world of commitments, duties and responsibilities… the dull and boring adult stuff.
Long gone are the days when you sprang joyfully out of bed. Instead, the sound of the alarm going off at 6am elicits a groan and the desire to crawl back under the covers for another couple of minutes.
Dragged into the monotonous and all-consuming cycle of work – eat — entertainment — sleep, the joy and enthusiasm for life you once knew is now buried beneath a thick blanket of busy-ness, stress and overwhelm.
Your inner sparkle has been snuffed out and you are left feeling worn out, disconnected and numb inside.
You don’t like the person you have become. You want your old, joyful self back—the one who is plugged in and full of beans.
What if the one you long for is still there, just where you left him/her?
Here are 9 ideas to help you get your sparkle back and reconnect with the zest for life you knew as a kid.
1. Get Back To Basics
“Simplicity is the key to happiness.” – Paramahansa Yogananda
Humans thrive in simple conditions. In my travels, I’ve often observed how people in so-called ‘third world countries’ exude an inner radiance and contentment that you rarely find in the West.
Complexity and busy-ness disconnect us from the LIFE inside. They churn up the internal waters and drown out the natural state of peace and contentment within.
When life is simple, your inner experience remains clear and spacious, allowing more of the light of your true nature to shine through.
Declutter, downsize, keep possessions to a minimum, live within your means, avoid stressful situations, complete unfinished tasks, make decisions quickly and stick with them, resolve your personal feuds, forgive easily.
2. Slow Down And Smell The Flowers
“You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry, don’t worry. Be sure to smell the flowers along the way.” — Walter Hagen
When you live life in the fast lane, you miss out on all the simple pleasures—the wind rustling though the trees, the warmth of the sun on your skin, the sound of waves lapping on the shore—the things that make life a rich and meaningful experience.
Make a conscious decision to slow down. Cut back on your commitments. Downsize so you can work less. Leave plenty of time between appointments to move through your day at a leisurely pace. Learn to say no. Perform tasks slowly and mindfully.
Get up earlier, walk or cycle to work, be mindful of the scenery along the way, spend time in the forest or at the beach, enjoy the sunset. Wake up to the world around you. This is how kids live.
3. Get Your Daily Dose Of Vitamin G
“Gratitude for the present moment and the fullness of life now is the true prosperity.” – Eckhart Tolle
I remember walking along a busy shopping street with my mother when I was about nine years old and being struck by the thought that here we were, on this giant rock in some far-flung corner of the universe, hurtling through space at incredible speed.
I seemed to be the only one in the busy street who was aware of this astonishing fact. Otherwise, they’d all be standing around with their mouths hanging open in awe and wonder, right?
When you get caught up in the daily grind, it is easy to lose sight of just how miraculous life really is.
Has your life become a chore rather than a privilege?
A daily dose of gratitude is the remedy.
At first, gratitude can be used as a tool to retrain the mind. Whenever you catch yourself complaining about your life or the world, think of three things to be grateful for instead—a healthy body, a roof over your head, money in the bank?
When you live slowly, simply and mindful of the present moment, the world naturally comes alive and appears beautiful. Gratitude arises effortlessly, as an expression of who you are.
4. Do What Makes You Happy NOW
“Put happiness first and all else shall be added unto ye.” – from Awaken The Happy You
Were you told at an early age that the roadmap to a happy and successful life is to study hard, go to college, get a well-paid job, buy a house and that—once all the boxes are ticked—you’ll THEN be happy?
Kids are already happy without any of these things. Happiness isn’t a thing to ‘get’. It is your natural state and arises spontaneously when there is nothing blocking it.
Happiness is a vibration. When you do what you love doing, vibrate at a high frequency. You become attractive, like a magnet.
As like attracts like, you effortlessly begin to attract the right job, the right relationship, the right circumstances into your life.
There are two ways to live life. You can rely on your own efforts to create the conditions that may or may not bring you happiness and fulfillment.
Or, you can do what makes you happy first and let life take care of your needs. You can let go and let God. Life supports a happy you.
5. Get Out Of Your Head And Into The Moment
Young children are present, alert and fascinated by their world.
I remember taking my three-year old daughter to the park one day. At one point, she excitedly started squealing ‘ladybird’, upon spotting one crawling up a leaf.
Her shrill voice snapped me out of my reverie. I had been so busy thinking about who knows what, that I hadn’t even noticed we were in the park.
My body had been there for several minutes but I had just ‘arrived’ in that moment. This is how most of us live.
Life is happening now but we miss it through our addiction to thinking. Our busy minds distract us from the wonder and beauty that is all around in every moment.
Get into the habit of noticing when you are lost in unproductive thinking.
STOP. TAKE A DEEP BREATH. BE PRESENT.
Focus on the physical sensation of your feet touching the ground, the feeling of the air coming into contact with your skin, tune in to the sounds around you. Notice that NOW is happening.
Present moment awareness is the key to injecting LIFE back into your life.
6. A Little Discomfort Keeps You On Your Toes
In the West, we live in the lap of luxury and comfort— climate-controlled cars, luxury king-size mattresses, ergonomic workstations, microwave dinners, in-home entertainment systems.
But our lifestyles come with a hefty price tag. We have become lethargic, overweight, out of shape and disconnected from ourselves and from life itself. We have lost the sparkle in our eyes… our passion and enthusiasm for life.
I was in India a few months back and had to make a 4-hour trip to another town. Rather than take a taxi as I usually do, I decided to travel by local bus.
It was hot, dusty and overcrowded. The seats were hard, the road full of potholes. There was loud music blaring for the whole journey.
But, do you know what? I got off that bus feeling exhilarated and alive. A little discomfort is good for the soul..
Get out and move your body. Walk to work, take the stairs instead of the elevator, go wild swimming, take a cold shower, hang out in nature, climb a hill, dance in the rain, feel the wind on your face.
Wherever you feel resistance—that’s your path to aliveness.
7. Why Nomads Are Not Mad
“The best things in life are on the other side of fear.” – Will Smith
The Indian teacher, Sadhguru, once asked his students “Do you know why nomads are called nomads?
The answer: “They are the only ones who are not mad. They are always on the move and don’t get stuck in one place.”
The tendency for most people is to build a secure and comfortable nest … and to fall asleep there. You settle for the soul-sucking job that pays the bills, the relationship that is well past its sell-by date and console yourself with a two-week vacation in the sun.
It takes courage to ‘fly the nest’—to leave your comfort zone and follow what feels alive and expansive. But, scary or not, this is sometimes what’s needed to get your LIFE back.
Feel the fear and do it anyway. The unconditioned Self— the raw pulse of life within you—is wild, free and vibrantly alive. It is forever seeking risk, expansion and adventure.
8. Focus On The Needs Of Others
“Happiness is not having a lot. Happiness is giving a lot.” The Buddha
Self-absorption is a major obstacle to feeling joyful and alive. It creates a dense fog that blocks out the light of your true nature.
When you are self-centred, your energy is heavy. It disconnects you from yourself, from others and from life itself. The more you give, the more aligned you become with your intrinsic nature, which is to give freely.
Always be on the look out for opportunities to serve. Practice random acts of kindness.
Buy a homeless person a coffee or a sandwich. Let someone go in front of you at the checkout. Offer an elderly person your seat on the bus. Send someone a letter of appreciation. Surprise them with flowers or a box of chocolates. Spend time picking up litter in the park.
9. Reconnect With Your Natural State Of Joy
When I offer meditation taster sessions to the public, I’m always amazed that people who have never meditated before often experience profound peace the first time they try it.
Even people who are deeply unhappy can experience peace the very first time they meditate.
Why is this? It is because, when the noisy traffic of your busy mind subsides for a moment, you get a glimpse of what lies beneath. You get to experience peace, stillness and connection—the attributes of your true nature.
Whatever the mind may tell you, there is no distance between you and peace, between you and happiness, between you and aliveness.
The joy, passion and deep sense of connection you knew as a child has never left you. Children exist in the natural state. You lost your connection when you true nature became shrouded in mist.
Disperse the fog of complexity, false beliefs and unhelpful lifestyle choices and you’ll discover that everything you’ve been looking for has been there all along.
Learn to meditate. Spend time each day sitting quietly. Connect with the treasure trove within. That’s where you’ll find everything you thought was missing from your life.
The Joy You Seek Is Still There, Just Where You Left It
Being an adult can be pretty tough.
Faced with a dull and monotonous routine, a never-ending pile of bills to pay and unrelenting demands on your time and energy, it is so easy to lose your joy, passion and enthusiasm for life.
But there is good news.
What you are looking for is very much alive and kicking inside you. It is still there, just where you left it.
Joy, passion and aliveness are natural attributes of your true nature. You uncover them through stripping away the unnatural elements such as busy-ness, stress and complexity.
Use the 9 tips above to help you achieve this. And you never know?
You may catch yourself doing a sneaky wee jig at the office copy machine!
About the author:
Author bio: “Seeking relief from my mind madness, I enrolled in what I thought was going to be a six-month meditation retreat. I didn’t imagine for a moment that I would end up taking vows and living as a monk for four years. Suffice to say, it was a life-changing decision!
Richard been offering workshops, spiritual life coaching and meditation classes for the last 26 years. He blogs at https://www.thinklessandgrowrich.com and has written two books, Kick The Thinking Habit and Awaken The Happy You .