Every now and then, you hear a story or you’re faced with the kind of news that makes you stop and re-evaluate everything in your life. I had one of those moments last week. The story isn’t mine to share but it slowed me down for long enough to bring everything into sharp focus.
It got me thinking about how many moments we waste waiting for things to be perfect instead of recognising the beauty in the here and now. Not the superficial or skin deep kind of beauty, but the genuine, imperfect beauty in every day. It’s not the stuff you’ll find in a clothing store or a glossy magazine but rather, in the simple unassuming moments that make our lives worth living.
Here are the places you’re likely to find it.
1. When you slow down
As I waited for the kettle to boil this morning, I found myself contemplating what else I could squeeze into the three minutes before I made the tea.
It struck me that lately my mantra has become ‘hurry, hurry’ because I’ve created a to do list that is overly long and a sense of urgency about the time frame within which everything needs to be done.
I was reminded of the words of a wise elder. “Don’t race against time,” she told me some years ago. Yet often I do. I teach mindfulness to remind myself that this is the way I want to be living, but some days I forget that the most mindful way to live is slowly.
Instead of racing off to do something else, I stopped beside the kettle and looked out at the trees and listened to the sounds of the morning. Those small things held such beauty.
2. When you are open to building a new connection with a loved one
When we can put aside old judgements and listen to the words of a loved one with new ears, we have the opportunity to open up a different kind of connection.
All of our relationships are based on the dynamic that exists between two people, established as a result of our biases, baggage and assumptions. We lock ourselves into patterns of behaviour and relating, which can limit the way we engage.
Try approaching someone you care about with an entirely different mindset, a fresh set of eyes and a willingness to believe in their innate beauty. You may be surprised at what unfolds.
3. In every meal you eat
In my late teens, my relationship with food was transformed when I met a group of friends who had travelled the world in search of new flavours.
Two of those friends were chefs who spent their days off cooking Spanish or Indian or Japanese banquets for the rest of us. They taught me to be passionate about food and to this day, I still read the recipes in Gourmet Traveller and make a point of savouring every meal.
Give yourself permission to fall in love with food – it is truly one of the greatest gifts in life.
4. In the miracle that is your body
Most of us have things we’d love to change about our appearance. We expend inordinate amounts of time beating ourselves up about those things. We regret the exercise we didn’t do or we feel guilty about the way we’re eating. While we waste our energy wishing for thinner thighs, we’re missing the fact that these bodies of ours are miraculous – even when they’re imperfect.
Instead of loathing any aspect of your physical being, celebrate every small element that allows you to go out into the world and experience the genuine wonder of life.
The eyes that see pink in the evening sky, the ears that hear birdsong in the morning, and the legs that make it possible for you to stroll around the park at lunchtime or climb to the top of a mountain if you so desire.
5. In the constant changing of nature
Every morning since we’ve moved (and many evenings before dinner), Chris and I have a new ritual of walking around the property and noting all the things that have changed in a day.
As well as savouring all of the small miracles of nature, it has become a reminder of the impermanence of every aspect of life. The difficult things don’t last forever but neither do the most beautiful ones.
Everything must be accepted or savoured in the moment.