live itI was catching up with a dear friend on the phone the other day, and after running through the latest news in each of our lives, I asked her again, “So how are you, really?  She took a deep breath and replied, “I have so many wonderful things going on in my life, but sometimes I’m just going through the motions and not even experiencing the moment.  I want to enjoy everything, but I’m so tired.

Although our lives are on different tracks right now, I understood completely–she has a house to run, a business to help, kids to raise–the list goes on.  They’re all amazing blessings, but understandably, she’s overwhelmed.

When did we become so busy that enjoying life became a chore?

We say yes to more, we take on more responsibilities and that’s part of growing–we naturally crave more of a full life.  But when it seems like we’re just managing another project, muscling through what needs to get done and not enjoying the process, it’s time to take a step back and look at the big picture.  It’s not realistic for everything to be fun and stress-free, but enjoyment should be the foundation of most of what we do.

What about having a periodic check-in process?  One that could ground and refocus our intentions–serve as a sort of barometer. When that feeling of overwhelm and stuck-ness creeps in, it’s a good time to regroup and attempt to trade stress for joy.

These are some ideas I try to remember when I check in with myself:

::  What if we said “no” more?  It feels so good to say no.  Sure, we may miss out on creating some memories, but prioritizing yourself first (yes, that includes you moms!) reminds us the world won’t go into a holding pattern if we’re not a part of every friend/family/work event.

::  What if  we didn’t do things out of pure obligation?  We would act more from the heart.  Sure, there are times when you just have to show up, but if that is the norm, perhaps it’s time to look at why everything feels like an obligation.  It’s a signal to re-prioritize.

:: What if we let go of the guilt?  We would feel more at ease with our choices.  Instead of the should have, could have and would haves, let’s focus on the can-dos, the hell yeses and the amazing opportunities to expand life in ways that work.

::  What if we followed our gut?  We would check in with ourselves more.  We would hone in on the things in life that bring us ecstasy and joy.  We would have more spontaneous dancing, visits with friends, trips of exploration, indulging in hobbies.  It’s simple: doing more of what we love brings us more happiness.

:: What if we made our feelings just as important as everyone else’s?  We would feel validated and cherished.  Making ourselves a priority is healthy and necessary.  If we’re always on the back burner of importance, resentment and frustration take over; if we make ourselves the number one priority, we can be more helpful and useful to everyone around us.

Life can feel like a treadmill or an amazing adventure, it’s your choice.  If you stop and smell the roses and take those breaks to re-prioritize, you give yourself time and permission to enjoy the life you’re living.  And trust me–the laundry will still be there when you’re done.

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