I have talked about before about how I am trying to live a life with 3Cs of compassion, creativity and contentment.
As for compassion and contentment, well they are a work in progress. In fact, I feel like I am coming more to terms with life being a work in progress. In the past I always wanted my life to be perfect, but I have come to realise it never will be. This is especially true when living with a chronic illness. But I am learning to be more compassionate and contented, slowly, over time. A lot to do with this is simplicity, having less things in my life. This is in terms of all the things that I do, both for work and for pleasure. I am no longer trainer for long distance runs, swims and bike races. But I am enjoying walks with my dog, I enjoy a swim and I am using cycling as a way to build up my stamina again- just five minutes a day at the moment. I also love yoga for the way it helps me to think about my body as I am moving it, which makes me more aware of damaging it. I think more carefully about what work I accept and in order to live well I have had to cut back on the amount that I do.
This has been a hard process, both in terms of work and what I do in my personal life, however I feel like they are paying off. The biggest of this is because I have more breathing space. I have always had so much on that I have bounced or run from one thing to the next, in terms of meetings, projects, things to train for, courses to do etc. One reason why I have so many qualifications. But now I am just sitting with things and ideas and waiting to see how they germinate. I journal about them, pray about them and don’t push things as much as I used to. My thoughts have time to breathe.
It sounds silly, but it really does make me much happier.
And as is the way of things as I have allowed things space, more ideas are coming to me, more things are coming through to fruition than they were before. Somewhat ironic. I look around at everyone and see them all rushing all of the time and think that this is not the way we are supposed to live. We are not supposed to be constantly running on adrenaline, our nervous systems cannot take it any more. I am sure part of the reason why my illness hit me as bad as it did is because I have always lived my life on my nerves, really stressed out all the time. Since I have had the decision to slow down forced on me I am actually beginning to be grateful. I am slowly learning to be content with what I can and can’t do and that in turn is allowing me to start to do more things than I was when I was in a massive flare which left me utterly exhausted and in bed or the sofa all the time or cycling between activity and complete rest.
It has forced me to be more compassionate towards myself and even other people, I don’t get as angry as I used to, as wound up by every little thing. I have to say that my husband has helped me here, he is very sanguine about things happening outside of his control and that has influenced me for the better.
This helps, as does smiling at people. I know that sounds like a tiny thing, but smiling at people acknowledges their existence, when they are having a hard day a smile might help. If they are getting angry it might help deflate it. I am not talking about a maniacal grin here which is frightening, but a soft gentle, ‘I understand’ smile.
Difficult I know and very against our culture.
Not engaging on internet debates which wind us up because we feel like we are arguing with idiots who are just wrong can be helpful too. Think of where you are spending your energy – do you really want it all wasted on random strangers? And don’t read the comments on news sites either, because you just lose your faith in humanity.
Look for the positive things to engage with, take time to look for the good things in life. They are there, even in the bleakest of times. I saw the first big fat bumblebee while I was out the other day, that made me smile!
All of these tiny things, part of mindfulness, can make you feel more compassionate and even more contented.