Today's topic is life maintenance and repair. I have learned that keeping a trusty toolbox at hand is essential. Although a toolbox for my physical home is important, the tools I am talking about today are social and emotional. My toolbox supports me on a daily basis as I build and maintain the foundation for my life. I continue to add more resources when life presents new opportunities for growth. And when I outgrow my current toolbox, I will build a tool shed.
Today, I practice maintenance before my foundation starts to crumble, because I believe the easiest way to health and happiness is to stay healthy and happy. Using my tools when everything is going well promotes contentment and prevents the majority of my personal crises.
Making a personal toolbox promotes self-sufficiency and resiliency. Rather than picking ourselves up, dusting ourselves off, and holding ourselves gently every time we fall (which will be a part of the journey regardless of our intentions), we can do a little maintenance along the way.
15 Quick Tools for Your Life Toolbox
1. AFFIRMATIONS: Write down ten affirmations and say them in your head or out loud.
I love myself.
I am loving.
I am enough as I am right now.
I am beautiful inside and out.
My feelings and sensitivity are my strengths.
I am strong and intelligent.
I have all of the tools I need inside of me.
I make positive choices in my life.
I am grateful.
I am generous.
2. WALKING: Call a friend and take a walk (or schedule a walk if you are at work). Ask your friend about his or her life and practice listening deeply. Or take a walk alone and practice appreciating the small, beautiful moments that occur. I love to walk on the beach or trails in the local parks.
3. GRATITUDE: Write down ten things for which you are grateful in your life right now.
4. MUSIC: Listen to your favorite music. If the music moves you, sing and dance like nobody’s watching for a full song. Notice your energy before you do this activity. Let loose. Notice your energy after you do this activity.
5. SELF-CARE: Take an Epsom salts bath and light candles. Or get dressed in something frivolous and fabulous. Take time to journal. Or get reflexology, a facial, or a massage. Pay attention to how you feel before and after your self care.
6. BREATHE: Step outside and take three deep breaths. Inhale deeply and exhale completely.
7. DISCOVER BEAUTY: Find something beautiful. Notice how you feel inside when you appreciate the small, beautiful things in life.
8. MOVE YOUR BODY JOYFULLY: Jump, skip, walk, run, dance, stretch, balance, practice yoga asana.
9. FEEL YOUR FEELINGS: Name your feelings. Describe your feelings. Where are they located in your body? Imagine telling a nonjudgmental friend that you are feeling this way. If a dear friend is nearby, practice communicating your emotional state. You can use the following prompt: Right now I feel _____ (sad, tired, happy, joyful, doubtful, fearful, hopeful, anger, etc.). The sensations are (full, heavy, open, closed, light, expansive, constricted, pulsing, streaming, moving, stuck, bold, subtle, profound, etc.). My feelings are located in my (chest, heart, head, stomach, pelvis, feet, etc.). Notice how you feel at the end of this activity. Did your emotions stay the same or change course?
10. RELAX: Sip on some herbal tea and allow yourself to take time out to relax.
11. GENEROSITY: Give something to somebody else. A compliment, a flower, a thank-you note, any sign of generosity big or small. Pay attention to how you feel when you are generous with others.
12. THE COLD WATER CURE: Plunge into cold water (bonus points if it is the ocean, a lake, or a swimming hole): Unscientific research proves that cold water plunges are the cure for depression. It has something to do with the minerals and intergalactic prana glow found in cold, natural waters.
13. BODY SCAN: Do a body scan. Bring your attention to your toes and scan your body for sensations as you slowly bring your attention up the left side of your body and travel back down the right side of your body.
14. HUMOR: Listen to your favorite comedian and let yourself laugh.
15. PLAY: Use a hula-hoop, trampoline, or jump rope for a couple of minutes. Play with your dog or spend time playing silly games with the children in your life. Notice your energy and emotions before you do this activity. Then notice your state of being after you do this activity.
BONUS TOOL: If all else fails and life is in need of some major repair, remember: Do no harm. Staying in stillness, employing non action, is often the wisest choice. We can simply slow down, take a seat and breathe deeply. If we are uncomfortable, we can remember that this too shall pass.
We can usually manage to stay happy, healthy, and full of wellness when things are going our way. But when life gets hard or feels empty, we often seem to forget our wealth of knowledge and self-love. However, if we choose to stay present, using every last tool to feel what we feel and keep it real, we begin to move into a new level of relationship with ourselves and our lives. We begin to trust ourselves to show up when things turn sour. And this is the surest sign of self-love, of holiness, of goodwill toward ourselves and others.
When we slow down enough to notice ourselves closing off to the world and we sense constriction in our chest, we can take out our toolbox, breathe into the sensations, return to the present moment, and begin to recommit to coming alive no matter what. Just saying it feels so good: “I commit to coming alive no matter what!”
Life goes through seasons, weather patterns, light and dark times. Our moods and luck can seem to change as quickly as these external forces. And the circumstances of our lives do change in small ways (or large ones) every minute, hour, day, and season. But we have more power than we realize. Paying attention to the chain of choices we make throughout our days sheds light on habitual thought patterns, reactions, and behaviors in our lives. And with tools and awareness, we can slowly replace unhealthy habits with healthier ways of being in the world.
Journal Activity: Your Toolbox
Add ten more tools to your toolbox. Type up your list and decorate your toolbox with color. Make your toolbox distinctly yours and beautiful. I would love it if you would share your tools with me.